Enjoy cinema under the stars
Emrah GülerTurkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akın’s 2002 film “Solino” sums up perfectly the unfettered nostalgia open air cinemas serve everywhere across the world. The film follows an Italian family immigrating to Germany, with one of the sons hoping to become a filmmaker. Gigi eventually makes a beautiful short film, but his ode to cinema comes when he reopens the local open air cinema, restoring its former glory.
For Turkey, open air cinemas lived their heydays in the 1960s and 1970s, until television sets helped fill the nights at homes. These cinemas, initially, didn’t even need screens, the films projected over big white walls. They were places of socialization, wıth ice cream and sunflower seeds accompanying the viewers on their journey into the screening of Turkish films mostly.
In Istanbul, summer days would be spent at the beaches scattered across the city that have long given way to pollution. And the families would go to open air cinemas at nights. Grandparents would sit next to little children, as mothers hushed their babies to sleep. For the younger audience, there would occasionally be a screening of a cartoon before the feature film started.
Cinema would exclusively serve the purpose of entertainment, the screenings sometimes accompanying concerts. Wooden chairs, movie posters across the walls and “Frigo” ice cream are the typical images that have come to be associated with the open air cinemas of five decades ago. And the image of angry young men throwing cigarette butts across the screen at the villain.
The last couple of years have seen a revival of open air cinemas, or rather open air screenings by arts and culture centers, shopping malls and universities in big cities. Five decades later, the quality of cinematography and sound is now higher, and the refreshments are richer (in some cases, you can sip your wine while watching a film under the stars).
Open air screenings in four cities
Istanbul’s veteran shopping mall Akmerkez has been going through a renovation, and now it offers screenings on its terrace, Üçgen Teras, every Wednesday until Sept. 7. You can watch Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice” this Wednesday. “Minions,” “The Angry Birds Movie” and Turkish director Yüksel Aksu’s journey into 1970s Aegean coast, “İftarlık Gazoz” will also be shown.
Turkey’s alternative cinema platform “Başka Sinema” (Another Cinema), which kicked off with the motto “Every day is a festival to us” in 2013, has teamed with Istanbul’s hip entertainment complexes UNIQ Istanbul and bomontiada for open air screenings. Bomontiada’s “Başka Sinema in Open Air” screenings will continue every Wednesday this month. This week, you can watch French writer and filmmaker Sylvain Chomet’s comedy “Attila Marcel” at 9:30 p.m.
The screenings at UNIQ Istanbul, in collaboration with Başka Sinema and Beşiktaş Culture Center (BKM), take place three times a week, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. This week, the program will include “Kocan Kadar Konuş 2,” the sequel to popular comedy “Husband Factor,” Turkish director Özcan Alper’s latest “Rüzgarın Hatıraları” (Memories of the Wind) and this year’s Belgian drama “Belgica” by Felix Van Groeningen.
In Ankara, the popular arts center CerModern continues its traditional open air screenings this year as well. On Aug. 9 at 8:45 p.m. you can watch Anton Corbijn’s take on the friendship of Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock and Hollywood actor James Dean. The open air screenings will continue throughout August.
The Aegean coastal city of İzmir is giving a nice touch to open air screenings, hoping to revive the spirit of decades back, with screenings of Turkish cinema classics from the 1960s and 1970s at the MaviBahçe shopping mall, with the aptly titled Nostalgia Nights. Among the films in the program are “Tosun Paşa,” “Küçük Hanımın Şoförü” and “Sarmaşık Gülleri.”
Another shopping mall in another city, Kayseri’s Forum Kayseri, is screening Turkish films, recent ones as well as classics, every Friday at 8:30 p.m. “Kocan Kadar Konuş” (Husband Factor) of 2015 will be screened on Aug. 12, and on Aug. 13, you can watch the 1974 comedy “Köyden İndim Şehire” (From Village to the City). Enjoy cinema under the stars for another month.