2004: 340ml release Midnight Drive-In.
2006: TopStar Drive-In closes down.
2012: Velskoen, Joburg’s last surviving original drive-in, closes its doors…
2013: Air Cinema Club launches!
As mall culture grows from strength to fluorescent, heartless strength (oh hi Newtown Junction Mall!) , the culture of ‘cold’ cinema in South Africa has spread to ice age proportions. Independent cinemas, like Johannesburg’s The Bioscope and Cape Town’s Labia Theatre, have quickly gained popularity. The Bioscope especially radiates a genuine and heartfelt sunshine, and city-dwellers have begun to thaw their desensitized vision. Now, the whole ice cube is set to crack open as Air Cinema Club (ACC) spreads through Johannesburg, reaches into Pretoria, and sits poised to execute a national take-over in 2014.
After a test-run in late 2012, ACC launched their Braamfontein-based monthly Thursday night screening in May this year, and have quickly built up a critical mass. The open air cinema hosts themed nights based around old-school cult classics (such as Casablanca, The Big Lebowski and most recently the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre). “It’s about a good night out,” says Matshepo Maja of ACC who Live Magazine SA caught up with. The experience is about much more than just the film: dress-uppers, free popcorn, themed eats, drinks and venue decor all add to the buzz on the night of a screening.
It’s not just the environment that marks ACC apart from mainstream mall cinemas. Following in the footsteps of Secret Cinema in London, ACC uses social media to create a connection with their audience. Online teasers, public votes and plenty of be-there-to-believe-it secrets and surprises are embedded into each event.
Live Magazine SA attended a special Horror edition on Friday the 13th on a Fox Street rooftop. Bloodstains, creepy candles and a (faux?) dead dog led patrons up five storeys of dimly-lit steps to the rooftop cinema. Kids in cat-masks and knife-wounds chow burritos and designer waffles downstairs, while peeps piss craft beers in the equally horrific, massacre-themed bathrooms. With doors opening at 6, the anticipation is palpable on the roof. Beanbags are adjusted, re-adjusted and re-re-adjusted, Momma and Poppa load up on popcorn for the kids, Sandton preppies fan inner-city spliff smoke from their Brazilian blow-waves and a thrilled hush descends as the thrash metal fades out and the feature begins…
In a country divided, shared social experience and a sense of community are hard to come by. The enthusiasm and diversity of the crowd at Friday the 13th were a sharp testimony to just how much ‘community’ is missed.
Another key attraction of ACC is the freedom of the open-air format. With many adults spending 9-5 indoors, its no wonder we relish the opportunity to get some fresh (or ‘fresh’, in the case of inner-city editions) air and stretching space.
Our poisonous comrades in Durban have Galileo Open Air Cinema, a family-centred cinematic event set in a breathtaking natural surrounding and featuring films like rom-com-king, Notting Hill.
In Kaapstad, Long Street’s Grand Daddy Hotel hosts The Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema, ‘a little bit drive-in, a little bit open air’. The Pink Flamingo screens cult classics comparable to ACC’s selection, such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and more contemporary classics like The Matrix.
ACC is giving away one set of double tickets to their sold-out regular screening this Thursday 26 September in Braamfontein!
For a chance to win, visit www.facebook.com/LiveMagSA