By Jermont Terry

CHICAGO (CBS) — There was no walking the red carpet this year, but the Chicago International Film Festival was still a go.

Despite the pandemic, the film fest decided to go retro and give moviegoers a different experience.

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As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, there have been so many Plan B’s during the coronavirus pandemic, and the opening of the Chicago International Film Festival on Wednesday night proved that the show – or the movie – must go on.

In a parking lot in Pilsen, just over 100 cars lined up. They were all there to keep the Chicago tradition going.

The Chicago International Film Festival is usually a star-studded event with a red carpet, but not this year.

“This I wouldn’t say is equivalent to the red carpet, but at least it’s something,” said Maria Miller, who was enjoying the festival on Wednesday.

Miller and her family were packed six deep to catch a flick outdoors, drive-in style.

“We are glad to have an alternative to be outside watching a movie,” Miller said. “So it doesn’t feel too bad.”

Coming up with Plan B was the only option.

“What remains the same is that we’re 12 days long and we’re showing great cinema,” said festival artistic director Mimi Plauché.

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Taking the big screen outdoors, organizers said, was a no-brainer.

“I think the drive-in was easier,” Plauché said, “just because it’s an old-school throwback, because we know how to put a movie on a screen.”

As those at the popup drive-in enjoyed the screening, many more experienced the film fest virtually this year.

“We also have hundreds and hundreds of people watching this from home at the same time,” Plauché said. “It’s a really exciting way to kick off an opening night.”

The opening movie focused on the one and only John Belushi. “Belushi” is the latest documentary from filmmaker R.J. Cutler.

Chaz Ebert, the widow of the late legendary film critic Roger Ebert, felt compelled to show up for the movie about Belushi, who was born in Chicago and grew up in Wheaton.

“(Roger Ebert) knew John Belushi very well, and to be able to see a film about Belushi out in the open air in Chicago, is just, he would consider it the quintessential Chicago experience,” Chaz Ebert said.

The pandemic has lasted longer than many expected, but there is one thing they’re taking from the drive-in experience.

“A little bit of normalcy is just what was needed,” Ebert said.

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And the film fest is a great way to distract people from the stresses of the pandemic. They still have spots available at certain screenings, and remember, you can watch online too.