A Breath Of Fresh Air

Film 4’s Summer Screen at Somerset House is well-established on the London film calendar

How you feel about watching a film in the open air is probably dictated by the weather.  A warm, balmy evening under the stars with a picnic and a glass of something chilled?  No problem.  Shivering under a less than efficient mac on a soggy cushion, watching the movie through drips?  Quite another matter …….

But, despite probably the wettest drought in history, the number of outdoor cinema screenings this summer is definitely on the up.  And there are some lovely locations, as well as good films, for those of us brave enough to opt for the outdoor experience.

Some are free – but some aren’t.  Expect to pay upwards of £8.50 for a ticket – some of the more expensive ones are a bit heavy on the pocket.  And, when you book, double check the organiser’s policy on bad weather and refunds: many screenings go ahead, regardless of rain.

But open air cinema has such a ring of summer romance that it’s hard to resist ……..



The Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House on The Strand runs from 16 – 27 August.  Originally an opportunity to enjoy cults and classics, this is now a bigger event, mixing favourites with red carpet premieres.  Such is its appeal that this year’s UK premieres of both Lawless and On The Road, fresh from Cannes, are already sold out.  There are still tickets available for other films – but be quick! Prices start at £14.50 and tickets can be booked online at http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/film/film4-summer-screen-2012

Screenings go ahead, regardless of the weather, so go prepared!

The More London Free Film Festival – yes, that’s right, free! – takes place in The Scoop amphitheatre near City Hall from 12 – 28 September.  There’s no shelter whatsoever – screenings are cancelled if it chucks down – and you definitely need a cushion to sit on.  Films start at 7.30 pm, but getting there early is advised as admission is on a first come, first served basis. It’s a good line-up this year, including David Lean’s Great Expectations, Walkabout, A Streetcar Named Desire, Senna and West Side Story.  For more information, www.morelondon.co.uk/events.

In tandem with the trend for pop-up restaurants, there are also pop-up cinemas and The Nomad is worth checking out.  It’ll be doing the rounds from the end of June to mid-September, showing films in unusual and interesting settings: The Shining in Brompton Cemetery is an inspired idea (sadly, it’s sold out, but you get the idea).  The organisers only issue e-tickets, so you’ll need to book via the website: www.whereisthenomad.com.

If you’d rather stretch out in a quintessential English garden, then the RHS at Wisley, just off the A3, offers Best Of British Film Nights from 13 – 15 July.  War Horse, The Ladykillers and Sense and Sensibility are the movies on offer and tickets are £15 from the RHS website, phone or in person at Wisley.  http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Wisley/What-s-on/Great-British-film-nights-at-Wisley.

Kew Gardens has had a similar idea and launches its La Luna cinema with The Artist, Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Grease on 6 – 8 September.  The cinema then moves to Kew’s sister location, Wakehurst Place, in Sussex, for a two night season on 14 and 15 September, showing The King’s Speech and Mamma Mia.  To book tickets for both locations, go to www.thelunacinema.com.

There are plenty more outdoor screenings in the London area during the summer, so check out a good listings mag for the most up to date information.


Around the UK

Calke Abbey is one of the picturesque settings for Derbyshire’s Summer Nights Film Festival

In the run-up to the 30th Cambridge Film Festival, the August Bank Holiday weekend sees a mini-season of films on Grantchester Meadows on the banks of the River Cam.  Up, Metropolis and Twilight:Eclipse will be showing and screenings go ahead, whatever the heavens chuck at the audience.  The full low-down and ticket links are on www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk.

The Summer Nights Film Festival in Derbyshire runs from now to mid-September at a number of scenic locations around the county, including Hardwick Hall, Kedleston Hall and Calke Abbey.  Films include The King’s Speech, Mamma Mia, Casablanca and The Woman In Black.  It’s masterminded by The Quad, Derby’s arts centre and tickets can be booked via www.derbyquad.co.uk/summernights.

Edinburgh’s International Film Festival includes a series of open air screenings on 14 -17 June in St Andrew Square Garden at the East end of George Street in the city centre.  The films haven’t been announced yet, but you can see them for free.  Check out the Facebook page for the latest and photographs from last year: www.facebook.com/eeunderthestars

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