Moon and stars: Park Nights, open-air film screenings

This summer, swap the multiplex for an open-air screening of your favourite classic film. But, Charlotte Cripps advises, take a picnic and a poncho

To tie in with his show Continuation, on now at the Serpentine Gallery in London, the American artist Richard Prince has chosen some cult classics of American cinema to be screened outside on a 50ft screen, near the Serpentine lake in Kensington Gardens. The films he's chosen include Two-Lane Blacktop, a road-movie directed by Monte Hellman, starring James Taylor and the Beach Boy Dennis Wilson; Bullitt, the Steve McQueen classic with its car chase through San Francisco; and Rendezvous, a nine-minute dash through Paris, filmed by Claude Lelouch.

Why did he choose these? "The doom, the unflinching points of view. They're direct, without artifice," Prince says.

But the screenings are also part of a growing trend – outdoor cinema. Sally Tallant, head of programmes at the Serpentine, says: "By showing a classic like Two-Lane Blacktop outdoors, in a park in the heart of the city, the environment gives the film a unique framing. The cult-classic nature of the three films, which all have epic car chases, suits outdoor screening.

"We have been screening outdoors since 2002, and the romance and collective nature of seeing film outdoors in the city is something we are going to see much more of."

Somerset House, where a big screen has been set up in the courtyard for its Film4 Summer Screen event since 2005, is selling 2,000 tickets each night. The 10-night season (to 9 August) opened with the premiere of Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army and finishes with a David Lynch double bill – The Elephant Man and Wild At Heart – and Al Pacino in Scarface.

The director of public programmes at Somerset House, Linda Bernhardt, says: "What people love is that it recreates the magic of going to the movies. The fact that you can see a film and bring a picnic means it becomes a whole evening. If it's raining, the audience snuggle up and we provide rain ponchos. This year, the tickets sold out long before the series started."

The Big Chill festival last weekend at Eastnor Deer Park in Herefordshire put on its first late-night outdoor film programme at its Moonlit Picture House, having drafted in the BFI and ICA to screen the films. The highlight was Dracula, shown at 1am.

Stuart Brown, the BFI's head of events, says: "The increasing demand for outdoor screenings is a reaction to the insular nature of iPod and download culture. People still want to come together and share an experience, which is a very human impulse. As technology advances and digital projection becomes more accessible, we will see a huge increase in open-air cinema. There's something very exciting about the epic scale of it."

Victoria Burns, who programmed films for Big Chill, says: "We screened the award-winning documentary Man on Wire on the main music stage. It is fun to take movies out of a theatre setting."

Also doing that is the Devon-based Skylight open-air cinema, which will be screening Hairspray at Blackpool Sands on 21 August. Meanwhile, the Screen Machine, an 80-seat mobile cinema that avoids the risk of bad weather, is touring the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with Sex and the City and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Elsewhere in Scotland, the Film Festival Under the Stars took place as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, putting on movies at the Mound Precinct, next to the National Gallery. Films this year included ET and Back to the Future.

But can movies really be appreciated outdoors? Mark Dinning, editor of Empire magazine, says: "Certain movies work in the open air. It is fair to say that intimate French dramas probably play better in a small, intimate cinema, but blockbusters like Indiana Jones or Hellboy II, or a classic like The Sound of Music, play perfectly to big crowds late on summer evenings; you get a communal atmosphere not dissimilar to watching a big band at Glastonbury. It's a great movie plus a picnic – what's better than that?"



Park Nights: open-air film screenings, Serpentine Gallery, London W2 (020-7402 6075), 15 August to 5 September. Richard Prince's exhibition Continuation runs to 7 September.

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Arts & Entertainment
Rory Kinnear in his Olivier-winning role as Iago in Othello

Oliviers 2014Actor beat Jude Law and Tom Hiddleston to take the award
Arts & Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is best known for this roles in Sherlock and Star Trek
TV

Arts & Entertainment
theatreAll hail the temporary venue that has shaken things up at the National Theatre
Arts & Entertainment
musicShe is candid, comic and coming our way
Arts & Entertainment
booksHer new novel is about people seeking where they belong
Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on The Crimson Field
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

    Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

    Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
    Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

    Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

    The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
    Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

    Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

    The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
    Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

    Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

    This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
    Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

    Education: Secret of Taunton's success

    Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
    10 best smartphones

    10 best smartphones

    With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal