Open Air Cinema: Celluloid Sail

Contributor James McColl writes about Open Air Cinema in the Plymouth in preparation for the first in the season.

Film Lovers rejoice!  A wave of special screenings is set to hit Plymouth. Starting in May, film fans can expect to see their favourite films back on the big screen and in some cases, for the very first time! Plymouth Arts Centre has partnered with Pop Up Events to bring Open Air Cinema back for 2017, as well as the BFI and Compass Presents to create Celluloid Sail, taking place on the 5th and 6th of May.

Across the country, alternative film experiences have become increasingly popular. With increasingly expensive ticket prices audiences expect something special for their cash;  Whether it’s being chased by zombies before Secret Cinema’s screenings of 28 Days Later or watching classics on a roof top cinema, the modern cinema goer wants a unique cinematic experience for their night out.

In Plymouth, organisations like Pop Up Events cater to these needs and over the course of the year, there will be opportunities to watch classics like The Goonies (12th of May), Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl (13th of May on the Hoe), Dirty Dancing (16th of September at Royal William Yard) and Ghostbusters (17th September at Royal William Yard).

For those new to this type of cinematic experience (sometimes called Expanded Cinema), the concept is simply that you watch films in a fun and unique environment. There are different levels on interaction of course, not everyone wants to be scared to death by a stampeding hoard of zombies before watching a film. Unlike other trends in film viewing  -here’s looking at you 3D glasses-  it is more than just another expense for the audience, it is about having a unique evening out which watching a film is a part of.

Some alternative cinema experiences are held at site specific venues that link in with the film being screened. One such event is the upcoming screening of Wes Anderson’s cult classic Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou showing (6th of May) aboard the tall ship Kaskelot.

Archive Footage from BFI

Publicity shot from Life Aquatic

At these events rather than it being screened in a dark room along the high street, the venue can work in conjunction with the film to build on the experience. As Plymouth Arts Centre states, ‘the films are always carefully chosen to suit the location’. Compass Presents have gone one step further with their cinematic experience and created a whole two days worth of activities to get the family excited and involved with film.

The Celluloid Sail tour will be jam packed with nautical fun celebrating coast and sea. During the day, audiences who visit the ship can climb aboard and explore secret spaces in the bowels of the boat and discover footage about life at sea. At night events extend into the evening as light and projection will animate the ship’s sails. Before the ship is transformed into an outdoor cinema for Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, quayside audiences will be treated to a live circus performance on the ship’s rigging.

As well as the Saturday night screening, achieve footage will be on display during the day. Presenting incredible film clips relating to Plymouth, and what better way to see historical footage of Plymouth than onboard the sail ship Kaskelot?

Tara Sachdeva, creative producer of Celluloid Sail, said: “Britain’s national archives are bursting with unseen content located around the British coast. We are really excited to unveil some of these treasures that show Plymouth’s history and harbour communities.”

This will also be a part of the BFI’s ‘Britain on Film’ project, a much larger program working to unlock film heritage for the enjoyment of everyone across the UK. Unlocking Film Heritage has been running sense 2013 and is one of the most complex and largest archival projects ever undertaken.

Whether you visit the Celluloid Sail tour or check out the Open Air Cinema, it’s clear that Plymouth has the resources and appetite for alternative cinema experiences. So, if you are film fans interested in Plymouth history or are just looking for an evening out, head down to these screenings so Plymouth can attract even more in the future.

For further details about the Celluloid Sail tour and other screenings visit Plymouth Arts Centre’s website.