Art News

The Great Escape

Because there is more to life than art (really), our contributor extraordinaire Jo Chard keeps looking for exciting -even if slightly bizarre- ways to enrich your mind and relax your body. This week: outdoor cinemas. Check it out!

By Joanna Chard | 25 Aug 2011

The cinema used to be an escapist haven, a democratising pastime for both young and old, rich and poor- an exciting, affordable, immersive experience. So what happened to our beloved cinemas? I don’t want tasteless food- expensive polystyrene popcorn and rubbery sausages in stale buns, with yellowy mustard gloop. I don’t want to pay £15 to sit in a darkened room with suspicious looking stains on the seat, and sit through 40 minutes of adverts. Luckily, a revolution is afoot, advancing up the coast, fighting through our rivers and plotting on roof tops. The outdoor cinema revival is here! You never have to eat nachos covered in a radioactive neon cheese again.

The Floating Cinema

Certainly one of the most original cinematic experiences to be had, this Floating Cinema is housed in a customised narrow boat in London’s East End. Designed by the architects Studio Weave in partnership with with artists Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie, the project’s goal is to document the waterway communities surrounding the Olympic Village in the lead up to 2012. The boat accommodates intimate on-board film screenings, along with other performance and community focused events. 

Evening view over East London’s waterways on the Floating Cinema

Cycle Cinema

If you’re concerned about the climate, then why not attend an outdoor cinema powered by bicycles? Brought to you by Magnificent Revolution, these cinematic events are run in various outdoor locations; the most recent was in London under a motorway bridge! To reduce the use of electricity, audio is broadcast using a wireless transmitter, so audience members can tune in on compact radios or their mobile phones. Don’t miss out on their next cycle screening among chickens and pigs at Hackney City Farm on the 28th August. Although based in London, Magnificent Revolution also has groups in Australia and Slovakia; so keep an eye out for this eco alternative, coming to a country near you. 

Magnificent Revolution’s cinematic cycling experience 


One cinema venture I’m particularly excited about are the new Cornish outdoor screenings being held this summer in picturesque locations across the Cornish coast. The most recent one took place at the beautiful Pendennis Castle, with views over Falmouth Bay under a star studded sky. Interesting locations for future screenings include a quarry, a ferry and Newquay Airport.


Skylight’s most recent screening at Pendennis Castle


Manchester’s Screenfields

In the heart of the Manchester, Hardman Square is being transformed into an open air cinema, featuring classic films from comedies to documentaries. Complete with gourmet BBQs and an outdoor bar, why not recline in a deckchair layered with blankets- all available for hire? This Mancunian cinematic haven is going on until September- so if you’re nearby, definitely don’t miss out!

The Future

The conclusion to my cinematic alternatives is an adventure of sorts. Brought to you by the creators of Secret Cinema and Future Shorts, Future Cinema attempts to bring film to life through a unique fusion of film, performance, music and multimedia. The experience aims to be wholly immersive and transform a chosen venue into an interactive, cinematic wonderland. The next instalment of Future Cinema heralds a return to the 80’s with screenings of Top Gun and The Lost Boys- two Californian cult classics not to miss.

Burlesque performers at a Future Cinema screening of Watchmen

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