Open-air screenings are bringing back the social experience and spirit of community. Keng Yang Shuen reports on the new players changing up the reel scene.
Watching movies alfresco was yesteryear’s version of a “block party” back in’70s Singapore: Neighbours gathered, shared snacks and traded gossip all while viewing moving images projected overhead. So popular was the concept that Cathay Organisation opened Asia’s biggest drive-in theatre in Jurong.
The expansive venue that could fit 880 cars closed in 1985 owing to dwindling audiences. Television took over, then multiscreen cineplexes and now, of course, who can live without online streaming and Netflix? But like music and photography, the surge of digital media has encouraged a small (often independent) yet growing number of creatives to go analog, so to speak, and revived the experience of enjoying the silver screen outdoors.
Cue Sunset Cinema, a new event kicking off this month on Tanjong Beach. Held over two weekends (May 5-14), it promises to be Singapore’s first-ever “silent” cinema. Attendees will be given wireless headphones to help block out ambient noise and ensure that the sound comes through, all while relaxing on deck chairs.
Culture hounds won’t complain about the quality of movies too: a mix of art house and Oscar-nominated works like Jackie, Arrival and The Founder, the biopic of Ray Kroc, the man behind the McDonald’s empire.
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