Archive | Open Air Cinema Foundation

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 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?


Open Air Cinema Foundation: MAP Foundation’s Media Campaign Reaches Out to Burmese Migrant Workers

One thing we’ve discovered in our first three months in operation here in Southeast Asia is that there are countless organizations looking to communicate with the communities they serve. Since most organizations work in rural areas often lacking electricity and other services, it is never easy to relay public health messages and information to those in need.

One example is the MAP Foundation serving the Burmese migrant community along the Thai-Burma border. MAP has created a series of cartoons to inform Burmese migrant workers how to avoid accidents and sickness in the workplace. These videos can be easily found on the MAP Foundation website and YouTube.

The Open Air Cinema Foundation aims to take vital media similar to this video series into Burmese migrant communities along the border. In partnership with local NGOs such as the MAP Foundation we use our outdoor projection technology to reach communities that normally would not be able to connect with these messages.


Open Air Cinema’s Screening of Haitian Presidential Debates in Camp Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

outdoor movies haiti

Last night was our fourth outdoor movie screening of the Haitian Presidential debates, this time in camp Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Mayor of Port-au-Prince invited us to screen the debates within the city courtyard, and the fire department assisted in security and setting up the screening. We have a few more inflatable movie screenings of the first round of debates, and then we’ll be showing the second round in advance of the elections on Sunday.

The local production crew is learning the OAC Cinebox outdoor movie system well, and set up last night without much assistance from the OAC technicians. The portable movie screen, outdoor projector, and outdoor speaker system were setup with ease. Overall the production went very well, and several hundred Camp residents attended and watched the debates.

Today will be screening the debates at camp Champ-de-Mars, right in downtown Port-au-Prince. We anticipate thousands of locals to be in attendance at tonight’s screenings, and we look forward to updating the blog with images and a report with how things went. Below are some images from last night’s outdoor movie screening at Camp Carrefour.

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti


Open Air Cinema’s Screening of Haitian Presidential Debates in Camp Villaembetta, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

outdoor movies haiti

Today marked the third day of the screening of the first round of the presidential debates, today in camp Villaembetta in Port-au-Prince Haiti. The outdoor movie screening was as successful as days past, as we worked with FilmAid International and crews of local Haitians in producing the event. Each day’s screening requires meeting with the local camp leaders and receiving permission to screen the debates, as well as arranging for a proper location for the setup of the inflatable movie screen and system equipment.

Camp Villaembetta was about 45 minutes away from our operational base, and we began setup around 3 PM. For a moment we thought the weather would bring rain to our event, and so we were prepared with tarps and plastic to cover the outdoor projector and outdoor speaker system if it started to pour. Luckily, we only saw a very slight drizzle, and all of the equipment remained safe and in working order.

In addition to screening the presidential debates, we also showed several films about voting, hygiene, and camp life.  The residents of camp Villaembetta were particularly excited to view their favorite Haitian comedian after the debates and short films. There were times when the entire audience erupted in laughter and cheer as (ironically), the comedian pretended in a skit, to be a presidential candidate, and found himself in several silly situations.

Overall, we are very happy with how the screenings are going. We are looking forward to implementing a few additional media items to the programming. Tomorrow we will have a live video camera on hand, as we will be inviting residents of the camp to come up in front of the audience and share their stories.  We will also feature a live storybook reading by one of our lead technicians who has been working with the camps for months in reading books to the children. We are excited to update the blog with how tomorrow’s events turn out.  We are thrilled that the technology of Open Air Cinema’s outdoor movie systems can bring educational opportunities and a moment of joy to the residents of the refugee camps whose lives were devastated in the earthquake that struck Haiti over a year ago.

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti

outdoor movies haiti