Archive | Humanitarian

This Colombian woman set an amazing goal for herself: garner mobile cinema experience from world over

Laura Silva Roldán talks to a group of students in northern Colombia

Laura Silva Roldán talks to a group of students in northern Colombia

On these pages you would occasionally see us talk about the lack of proper movie events in many parts of the world.
With only 5% of cities and townships that have cinemas, the Latin American nation of Colombia is not an exception.
What makes this nation of almost 50 million stand out is an initiative pioneered by Laura Silva Roldán.
There are actually a number of them. But first things first.
I’m very interested and passionate about mobile cinema, since I started in 2012 I’ve realized how powerful this very simple idea is and I’ve realized there are all kinds of mobile cinemas in the world that most people don’t know about.
Graduate of University of Cinema in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Laura is currently researching for a film with a working title Itinerant. Her goal is to gather the experiences of mobile cinemas in Colombia, United States, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru, the UK and Netherlands. And South Africa — why not! Think
It is also a prelude of a project we’re developing for implementing basic mobile cinema infrastructures to run permanently in small, rural and decentralized urban spaces [in the Global South].
Thus cultural events can be provided to such communities all the time, at a low cost.
“One of the main goals is also to collect films around the world which constitute a Content Bank for community screenings and mobile cinemas around the globe,” Laura explains.
With a 12-year experience as a girl scout and now as head of Cine Vagabundo (The Wandering Cinema), a Colombian non-profit, Laura recently visited Open Air Cinema HQ in Utah to inspire us into a partnership.
And Laura is definetely good at that having previously secured support from such partners as Colombian Ministry of Culture, NBC The National Broadcasting Company, Brandeis University (both USA), BRITDOC, a UK-based nonprofit dedicated to reinventing funding & distribution for independent documentary filmmakers.
A Cine Vagabundo screening

A Cine Vagabundo screening


What’s trending in open air cinema in Eastern Africa in 2015

Pius John Mbeshere (in the middle) (photo from his Facebook profile)

Pius John Mbeshere (in the middle) (photo from his Facebook profile)

Following the publication of our post about developing the culture of Open Air Cinema in Tanzania last week, our long-time friend in the Eastern African nation, Pius John Mbeshere kindly shared the results already obtained over there.

Given Pius’ experience of work for FilmAid International on the border with Burundi and with Openair Media Communications offering mass screenings of awareness-raising films, it was an enlightening conversation.

What is your history with Open Air Cinema?

History started in 2007 when for the first time I heard about Stuart Farmer, president of Open Air Cinema in the United States. We exchanged emails between me and Open Air Cinema through FilmAid International answering questions with regard to equipment that Open Air Cinema was willing to donated to FilmAid International. In July 2007, we gave a warm welcome to Stuart Farmer who landed in the country with his donation of high-tech outdoor equipment in Kibondo (refugee-populated district in western part of Tanzania).

Discussion between me and Stuart gave me a full picture of what Open Air Cinema is. Together with Stuart and my technical crew, we held several lovely events in a refugee camp — twice a week for two weeks.

In 2008, I got an opportunity to visit Open Air Cinema Global HQ in Utah and worked in different departments as well as accompanied Open Air Cinema event’s team, helped set up and operate equipment. Memorable and notable events were Bridal Vail Falls Film Festival –proceeds from which benefit Rwanda Cinema Center — and one event in Hollywood.

What are the most exciting moments you had around the outdoor movie screenings in Tanzania?

Before I learned about Open Air Cinema, we had great moments when for almost five years we would project film onto a big screen tied up on two mounted containers or sometimes using a flat-bed truck. It was tiresome to install the whole system but it was exciting to entertain, educate and advocate issues through the use of films in Tanzania.

The most exciting moment came when in 2007 I started communicating with Stuart Farmer — I call him ‘my role model’ — about his intention to introduce new outdoor cinema technology to Tanzania. This was an unforgettable moment when my technical crew together with Stuart inflated a giant Open Air Cinema outdoor movie screen before an excited crowd in a refugee camp. Everyone: kids, youths and the elders were totally amazed by this technology and a mass of people attended this event.

In 2008 refugee operations in western Tanzania were reduced and gradually phased out by the government of Tanzania. Stuart Farmer invited me to visit Open Air Cinema in Utah, where he donated to me a set of outdoor screening equipment. I took it back home. We established a small media firm called Openair Media Communications.  We managed to host some free outdoor movie events using this set of equipment specifically working with Embassies (2010 FIFA World Cup final match England vs USA  at UK embassy in Tanzania) and other development institutions such as Under the Same Sun, Medecins du Monde, USAID and Media For Development International in Tanzania.

2012 – 2014. Openair Media Communications secured a project called “Giving the Voice to Youth at Risks” that was funded by Tanzania Media Fund and Medecin du Monde. One of the exciting moments during this project was that a community of drug users got an opportunity to raise their voices before the government and community at large on issues concerning their daily life. We filmed and interviewed the drug users, edited the film and projected it onto our Open Air Cinema outdoor screen in Dar es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania.

What are the fields and communities that can benefit the most from Open Air Cinema technology in Tanzania?

Entertainment and education. Communities that can benefit from Open Air Cinema technology are refugees. There is another influx of refugees from Burundi coming back to Tanzania due to unstable security in this country. Tanzanians who like sports and games and development projects.

But according to my experience and knowledge community will benefit a lot through establishment of social business/entrepreneurship projects (development projects in general) where we will focus on solving community’s problems while doing business. This is where we can bring in Open Air Cinema Foundation.


Open Air Cinema Holds Screening Despite Rocket Attack Threat

Among the six screenings that Open Air Cinema did in Israel as part of the First Ukrainian Film Week there was one that we will be talking about for a long time. The city of Ashkelon is located 8 miles from Gaza – an unstable area on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It takes less than a minute for a rocket launched from Gaza to reach this city. Open Air Cinema crew left Ashkelon 20 minutes before the anti-missile alarm was set off.

Ashkelon in 8 Miles to Gaza

Residents of this volatile region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea enjoyed outdoor screenings

Our partners from the Israeli Friends of Ukraine secured a great location for the screening: a municipal amphitheater by Kokhav ha-Tsafon School. Despite the constant threat of a terrorist attack kids hangout there every evening after school. Our screening attracted over 50 kids and their parents. Also Vice Mayor of Ashkelon Sofia Beilin attended the screening. She liked the idea of entertaining the community with outdoor movie screens. The concept was completely new to her. She especially underlined the easiness with which the screen is set up. Sofia said that it is always a challenge to comply with the security regulations when setting up a collapsible screen for mass events. Because our screen is kept afloat by pure air, even if it falls it can’t hurt anyone.

Open Air Cinema 16' Home System entartains audience at an Amphitheater in Ashkelon, Israel

Ashkelon kids can't wait for the movie to begin. Open Air Cinema Home 16' screen

For centuries, the territory of present-day Ukraine was a meeting ground for many cultures and the dwelling place of one of the oldest and most populous Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Informed by the findings of the shared historical narrative between audiences in Ukraine, Israel and the diasporas, we treated Ashkelon kids to Іван Сила / Strong Ivan, a children’s film about the “incredible adventures of Ivan Syla, the strongest man in the world.” The Ukrainian Jewish Encounter made these movie encounters possible.

“Going to Israel we completely realized the threat of terrorist attacks in an unstable Middle Eastern region. Holding the screening in Ashkelon 20 minutes before a rocket attack was the closest we were to war-like situation during this road show in Israel. This realization makes us especially thankful to the Ashkelon viewers who attended our event and had the whole fun one can have under the circumstances,” shares his impressions Nicholas Bazanov, Open Air Cinema Marketing Manager.


Open Air Cinema gives visibility to Eastern European film-makers in Israel

Open Air Cinema travels to the Middle East to support our European team during the first ever Ukrainian Film Week in Israel (October 8-13).

Ukrainian Film Week in Israel

Open Air Cinema Outdoor Film Festival in Israel

Most titles to be shown are not yet released internationally, fresh from their festival premieres.

The outdoor movie screenings are scheduled to entertain crowds in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Ashkelon and Haifa. To grace the screen along with numerous modern flicks is Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, a 1960s movie classic from Eastern Europe by Sergei Parajanov, an Armenian film doyen.

Supported by head of Ukrainian State Film Agency Pylyp Illenko, the film initiative is expected to boost the level of inter-governmental film cooperation between Ukraine and Israel. And this is on the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, in the shadow of Open Air Cinema’s 16′ Screen. The outdoor screenings will be followed by Q&A sessions where the viewers will be given a unique chance to hear from some of the most prominent film-makers from Eastern Europe.


Open Air Cinema Foundation contributes to community building in Ukraine

Open Air Cinema Foundation continues to support the most transformative community initiatives in Ukraine. One such event took place in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in August. Up to 400 people gathered in the downtown square commemorating social activists who gave their lives during 2014 Euromaidan protests.

Contributed by Open Air Cinema’s Ukrainian correspondent, Nicholas Bazanov and Andy Kozlov

Film Screening in Ukraine. Maidan Heroes Square

Open Air Cinema Home 16’ System. In the Square of Euromaidan Heroes. Graffiti by depicts an assassinated Euromaidan hero Serhiy Nihoyan (in the background).

Open Air Cinema Home 16’ Outdoor Movie System was a great match with the location. Helping the screen to create the cozy atmosphere were improvised chairs made of palettes and bean bags. The audience was treated to a free glass of Ukrainian red wine and snacks.

Kyiv Audience at the square

Cozy atmosphere at the outdoor screening in downtown Kyiv

Young Ukrainian filmmakers chipped in their short films about outstanding Kyivans with the aim of fostering in the viewer a sense of pride for their neighbors. This type of films is something that Ukraininans can’t watch on TV or online because it’s hard for indie filmmakers to make it into Ukraine’s mainstream media.

Screen in the woods

400 people gathered around Open Air Cinema 16’ Screen in downtown Kyiv. August 2015

Open Air Cinema Foundation was happy to take part in this event. We not only supported community building activities in Kyiv but also gave visibility to up-and-coming filmmakers in Ukraine.



Disaster Relief Trials SF

While working on our Bicycle-Powered Cinema over the summer, we spent a good deal of time with some of the best and brightest minds in the cargo bike industry. One of those bright minds is Mike Cobb, proprietor of Framebuilder Supply, welding superstar, ant-load level cargo bike enthusiast, and creator of the Disaster Relief Trials.

Mike was disappointed with the response to hurricane Katrina and decided to do something about it. He envisioned teams of cargo bicycles working together to deliver supplies, medicine, and information to people who need it. He saw how cars and trucks couldn’t always reach areas that needed help and that gasoline availability couldn’t be relied on in these extreme situations. Thus, in 2012 the cargo bike powered Disaster Relief Trials (DRT for short) were born in Portland, OR.

A disaster drill in the form of a cargo bike competition simulating a day 4 supply run. Your neighbors need help- do you have a cargo bike?

The idea is to simulate a day four disaster scenario supply run. An earthquake or other disaster is said to have hit four days ago, and riders must race through a 30 mile self-guided course tackling obstacles, carrying heavy and sometimes delicate supplies, and solving problems they might encounter during a real disaster scenario situation. It’s a proof of concept that Mike hopes will grow into an integral part of disaster response around the country and so far the energy and excitement surrounding the event has been overwhelmingly positive. Trials have already taken place in Portland, Eugene, San Francisco, and Seattle with even more cities slated for next year. The events have drawn major media coverage and nods from government organizations like FEMA.

DRT Competitor

A rider tackles a water obstacle while carrying important cargo at the SF DRT

October 19th marked the 25th anniversary of the disastrous Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, and the first year for their own DRT event. The event was sponsored by Xtracycle with support from Rock The Bike, 2 Meter Critical Mass Amateur Radio, and Open Air Cinema.

We were excited to get involved with the DRT and support it by developing a pedal-powered leader board for the event. The leader board software was developed by Sam Beveridge and has been open sourced on github. A big thanks goes to Sam who donated his time and expertise to make this happen. The leader board is powered by our Cinebike and a local web server. We hope to roll it out (pun intended) to other events next year.

DRT leader board

Spectators look on as the results come in.

During the event, local ham radio operators were stationed at the headquarters and at each of five checkpoints. When a rider came through the checkpoint, they would receive instructions from the operator, who would then relay their time back to headquarters. The HQ operators would then relay the information to our leader board station. Everyone could watch as the race progressed and see the real-time status of each rider. Amazingly, the entire operation took place without reliance on the power or communications grid.

In a real disaster scenario the leader board could be used to provide information about missing persons, supply and relief locations, important messages, or just to keep people’s spirits up with an entertaining film.

Leader board station at the DRT

Ham radio operators relay information to the leaderboard.

You can see the final results of the San Francisco Disaster Relief Trials on the DRT website.

We are excited to be involved with the Disaster Relief Trials as races roll out throughout the country and beyond. Keep an eye out for events in your local area.

A disaster has struck, your neighbors need help, do you have a cargo bike?


Outdoor Movies in Haiti: October 2, 2011

Outdoor Movies Haiti

Outdoor Movies in Haiti: October 2, 2011

Outdoor Movies in Haiti are going well, as Open Air Cinema continues it’s efforts to bring cinema to a place with no movie theaters. This weekend, we branched out our efforts and expanded to the city of Saint Marc, just north of Port-au-Prince.  Contact us today at 866-802-8202 to find out more about our efforts in Haiti, and to place your order for your Open Air Cinema outdoor movie system.

This week, we expanded Open Air Cinema’s outdoor movies Haiti program to the city of Saint Marc which lies just north of Port-au-Prince. The beautiful coastal town is frequented by Haitians as a place to relax and get away.  It’s an obvious location for relaxation and enjoyment, as it’s wide streets (and relatively cleaner), sandy beaches, are a refreshing retreat from the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

We took some photographs at our inaugural event, which was a huge success. Hundreds were in attendance, and we expect that outdoor movies in Saint Marc will only improve as more citizens hear about cinema on the big screen. Here are some images from the event. There’s nothing more beautiful or exciting, than an outdoor movie screening.

Outdoor Movies

Outdoor Movies

Outdoor Movies

Outdoor Movies

Contact us today by calling 866-802-8202 to hear about our initiatives in Haiti, and to find out what an Open Air Cinema outdoor movie system can do for you and your community.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Fundraising With Your Open Air Cinema Outdoor Movie System

outdoor movie fundraising

Contact us today to order your outdoor movie system from Open Air Cinema.  You can call us at 866-802-8202 or fill out our online contact form. Either way, we are excited to talk to you and to help you get on your way to fundraising for your organization in big ways.

Do you represent a municipality, a non-profit organization, or are you promoting a cause you believe in? If so, you are likely looking for ways to raise funds for your cause, and we know as well as anyone that this can be a difficult process (we’ve written many grants for the Open Air Foundation). However, fundraising has never been as easy as with an outdoor movie system from Open Air Cinema.  There are several ways to use an inflatable movie screen system to promote your cause, and in turn to raise lots of money so that you can focus on what you do best – helping those in need, curating that big art show, or entertaining your community for another year. Here are a few ideas about how you can use an Open Air Cinema portable movie screen system to raise funds:

1. Screen a film related to your cause. Everyone knows that in order to get people to donate to your cause, you need to educate them on what it’s all about.  One of the best ways to do this is through the medium of film. The magic of the big screen is a big promoter of what you care about most, and there is likely a film that relates to your cause.  Whether you are raising money to help the devastated residents of Haiti or Japan, or if you’re trying to build up your annual fund for your upcoming city days, there is a film that will inspire and educate your audience about your cause.  Use the entire event as a platform for your annual campaign. Solicit donations before and after the event, and make sure you keep tabs on who attended.  Following up is a key component to securing donations. In short, screening a film related to your cause on an Open Air Cinema outdoor movie system is a powerful thing, and will set you on your way to achieving all of your fundraising goals.

2. Request donations as admission for your annual film series. As we noted above, for your big donors it is a good idea to solicit donations in an aggressive way, and providing special screenings for your different networks will help facilitate you raising big money.  Another way to raise funds is to charge admission (or “request donations”) for your annual film series.  This is a great way to get support from your everyday community members, who might not be able to donate $500 at your next VIP event. There are potentially thousands of community members interested in your cause, and most will be more than happy to support what you’re doing through paying a few dollars to see an outdoor movie under the stars.  With Open Air Cinema’s Elite outdoor movie systems, you can host thousands of patrons at once.  At even a few bucks a ticket, you’ll potentially raise thousands of dollars at each event, setting you on your way to fulfilling your organization’s mission in big ways.

There are many ways to fundraise with an Open Air Cinema outdoor movie system.  Contact us today at 866-802-8202 (or use our online contact form), and we’ll be more than happy to discuss the many ways you can use an inflatable movie screen system to get the attention, and the checkbooks of your prospective patrons.