Film screenings and concerts set for Kingston Penitentiary
The grounds of Kingston Penitentiary (KP) will soon look less like a former maximum security prison and more like an outdoor movie theatre, as the St. Lawrence Parks Commission has announced a series of film screenings set to take place this fall at the shuttered institution. ‘Movie Night at Kingston Penitentiary’ will feature four different screenings over two weekends in late September and early October, with each film having some connection to prison life.
The series officially gets started on Friday, Sept 30, 2022, with the 1980 musical comedy hit The Blues Brothers, featuring Kingston’s own Dan Aykroyd. That will be followed up with a screening of O Brother, Where Art Thou? on the next evening. The series returns the following weekend with The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption playing on October 7 and 8 respectively.
“The films have a connection to penitentiary life, allowing us the opportunity to speak about certain elements of each film, how it relates to Kingston Penitentiary, and Canadian Corrections as a whole. The Penitentiary has many stories to tell and this will offer an additional event to tell new material not told on the tours,” said Greg Gouthro, Events and Operations Coordinator with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.
Doors are set to open each night at 7 p.m., with a special presentation at 7:15 p.m. before the films officially get underway at 8 p.m.
“Each movie will have a unique presentation that relates to both Kingston Penitentiary and the film being shown. It will include a visit to a relevant part of the Penitentiary, education about what happened there, and, of course, some interesting stories,” Gouthro shared.
“The screenings … are an [exciting] opportunity to use the site in different ways, and also give new programming, educational, and entertainment opportunities.”
Admission to each screening event is $20, and interested moviegoers are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets and to dress for the weather, as the films will be screened outdoors, rain or shine. Although no outside food or drinks are permitted, attendees will have an opportunity to purchase concession items from the gift shop ahead of the screenings. Parking will be available onsite at no extra cost.
‘Movie Night at Kingston Penitentiary’ is just the latest offering in a series of special programming to take place at the historic prison. Earlier this year, the Kingston Canadian Film Festival held a screening of the documentary Go Boy inside the walls of the former prison yard. Next month, KPP Concerts will host a series of performances inside the former mattress factory within Kingston Penitentiary. Hip-hop artist Classified will play on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, and rock band Status/Non-status will play on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, with one more show yet to be announced.
For the last several years, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission has offered guided tours of the prison, making the site one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. The tours are often led by former staff of the institution, providing visitors unique insight into what life was like inside the infamous prison.
Along with the regular full-length tours, officials have recently started offering ‘express tours,’ offering visitors a brief glimpse behind the walls of KP. “[The Express Tour] is a 45 minute tour… and is ideal for those who want a more introductory experience of the site, or maybe have youth tagging along who they think may have trouble keeping their attention focused for the longer tours,” Gouthro explained.
When not playing host to guided tours or other special events, Kingston Penitentiary has also become a popular location for television and film projects. In recent years, productions such as Titans, Alias Grace, and Mayor of Kingstown have all filmed scenes within the former prison’s walls.
Tickets for ‘Movie Night at Kingston Penitentiary’ can be purchased on the Kingston Pen Tours website.