A combination of trip cancellations, country-specific restrictions on flights, brings air traffic to a stop. And Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, for the first time in history opens a drive-in cinema in Vilnius Airport’s apron area, where planes are usually parked, unloaded, refuelled and boarded.
The ‘Aerocinema – The Journey Begins’ project, which kicked off on Wednesday, April 29th at Vilnius International Airport and will run until the end of May, is part of the Vilnius International Film Festival (Vilnius IFF).
Despite growing and continuously adding new destinations in recent years, Vilnius International Airport has quieted down while waiting for international travel restrictions to be lifted. The organisers of Vilnius IFF saw this downtime as a brilliant opportunity to screen films while movie theatres are closed.
The project is a sign of support to both the aviation and movie industries, which are going through difficult times as a result of the restrictions caused by the pandemic.
According to Algirdas Ramaška, General Director of Vilnius IFF, people are longing to travel and experience the excitement one feels at airports while waiting to embark on a new journey. Aerocinema will offer a new type of travel – through an open-air silver screen. Each week, the film program will take the audience into another continent – Europe, Asia, North and South America.
“We want to create a unique experience. Going out onto an airport apron, which is usually only possible to access after check-in, is an exciting experience,” says Ramaška. “I think these screenings will leave an impression on audiences that will last a lifetime.”
Up to 220 cars will be able to fit into the screening area at once to watch a movie. The project’s organisers have also made sure that everyone will be able to see every detail of each film, thanks to the largest screen in the Baltic States, which is roughly the size of a five-storey building. The sound system, on the other hand, has been traded in for car radios, just like traditional drive-in theatres. It promises to be an exciting experience – no comments from strangers in the back rows and a perfect view for everyone.
“Implementing this project was a pleasant challenge for us – we had to transform the airport apron, which is usually a restricted area, into a space open to film lovers. We were excited to contribute to a project of this nature while also using this opportunity to demonstrate how airports can perfectly combine aviation activities with events and projects of various formats. I believe that after the drive-in cinema events, Vilnius will have more even more movie buffs and aviation lovers too,” says Dainius Čiuplys, Head of Vilnius International Airport.
The drive-in theatre makes it easy to follow physical distancing guidelines and other necessary security measures. Tickets will only be available online and only cars with a maximum of two people will be allowed into the screening area.
Vilnius has been looking for ways to turn the challenges that came along with lockdown-imposed restrictions into new opportunities. A few days ago, the city offered the free use of its public spaces to cafes in a bid to help them cope with the downturn caused by quarantine while allowing them to follow strict physical distancing regulations.
Photo by: Gediminas Gražys