A summertime tradition with many is an outdoor cinema experience. This can range from movie drive-ins to gatherings at a park to watch the silver screen. It is an experience that touches all the senses. It is why they are so popular in the past decades and continues to be a nostalgic evening with movie lovers and romantics. Maybe you can create your own DIY backyard movie experience with blankets, pillows, popcorn and refreshment bar with friends and family on a warm Friday night.
Open-air cinemas are part of summer life in Greece, a fact conceded by many indoor screen owners who prefer to shutter shop and take a break until September. This year, there are around 90 terraces and gardens serving as open-air movie theatres in the greater Athens area. With the memories and thoughts of the enjoyment watching outdoor cinemas, AFP has shared what Greek communities look forward to in the summer as their tradition.
“Summer cinema is romantic,” says Eleni Barka, a woman in her thirties about to enjoy an early evening performance. “It’s a completely different experience to being in a dark room theatre. Here you can see the sky and the moon”.
“When the weather heats up in Greece, the first thing you think of is the open-air cinema,” she adds. “Consider that in the sixties, there were 600 open-air cinemas in Athens,” says Dimitris Fyssas, a journalist and author of a comprehensive study on Greek movie theatres in the capital dating to 1896. “As few families had access to television at the time, this was the main source of entertainment,” he adds. “Land was cheap, so it wasn’t difficult to find a parking lot and a projector to get started,” Fyssas said. Pangrati alone boasted 10 screens, recalls Dia Kotira, a retired singer and owner of the “Cine Oasis” in the district. “Life changed with television, people became accustomed to staying at home,” says Dia, who lives in Switzerland but returns to Greece every summer to help her sister Maria run the “Oasis”.
“In the early eighties, we reached 80,000 ticket sales. Today it’s more like 6,000,” she said. “But we have have regulars who remain faithful to us. In fact, many of these are gifts,” she adds, pointing to a variety of trinkets decorating the cinema entrance. Dia sits at the ticket booth, beneath a portrait of John Wayne. Maria, who lives above the cinema, runs the bar. Their projectionist Yiannis battles with the theatre’s Italian-made projector, a 1965 antiquity operating on carbon arc lamps. “People prefer outdoor cinemas, everyone tells us,” says Maria Kotira. “They wait for the summer to come and watch the films they missed during the winter. They truly love it.” In recent years, there have been efforts to spruce up the experience for moviegoers ― several screens now offer lounge chairs, cocktail bars and 3D technology. But the other essential elements of the open-air experience in Greek summer ― the sound of cicadas, the sweet smell of honeysuckle and onlookers stealing a peek from neighbouring balconies ― remain the same.
Source: AFP – The Malay Mail
Photography: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris