Outdoor films return as cinemas remain closed amid coronavirus

By Chen Shasha Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/10 1:08:36

Local residents watch an outdoor movie at Shanghai's Jing'an Park in August 2018. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Shanghai's film bureau recently introduced a notice on the management of airing movies outdoors amid the coronavirus, which is seen as a positive signal for outdoor films in the city as cinemas are still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The notice requires that outdoor film airing should be carried out in a wide and open outdoor space on the basis of receiving approval from local authorities. It also asks local film administration offices to work jointly with public security, firefighting and health departments to ensure epidemic control measures are well implemented in the venues.

A member of staff from a science and innovation park in Baoshan District, surnamed Li, told the Global Times that the park recently launched a night festival as the city is encouraging nighttime consumption, which includes free outdoor films over the weekends from June 5 to 27.

Audiences are asked to keep the one-meter social distancing rule, wear masks and not drink or eat during the movie to reduce infection risks, Li said. 

However, the full return of outdoor movies still needs some time considering the coronavirus. 

The authorities announced in May that watching outdoor movies in city parks, an activity held every year in Shanghai from July to September has been suspended this year due to the coronavirus. A member of staff from Jing'an Park in Jing'an district confirmed with the Global Times that it is still unknown whether there will be any this year.

Lei Guang, a member of the Shanghai Rural Digital Cinema Company, which focuses on charity movie screenings in villages, communities and schools told the Global Times that their release activity has just started after a four-month halt because of the pandemic.

The frequency has decreased dramatically because of the coronavirus. "The biggest challenge now for outdoor screening is to maintain audience mobility," he said.

"Previously, we only needed two people in a team; now we need at least four to maintain order and ensure epidemic control measures, which has raised our costs," he noted, adding that they had to apply for a 200,000 yuan ($28,218.69) subsidy from the authorities to support the operation.

Other cities like Beijing, Xi'an, Nanjing and Yibin also resumed outdoor films for their residents who have been staying away from cinemas for a long time, according to media reports.

"Our childhood is back! Bringing a small chair or a wood bench, you can just find a casual spot and sit down to watch the movie in the breeze," said 30-year-old Xi'an resident Chen Tingting, who still cherishes the happy moment of watching outdoor films on summer nights when she was a child, together with her family, friends and villagers.

"Considering the perfect natural ventilation and wide space for social distancing, it will be a good choice for cinema-goers during this special period," she said. 

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