Where can you experience French cinema without having to book a flight to France? Perhaps you’re more of a classic horror person? Or maybe you need ideas for an inexpensive date night or night out with the kids? Well look no further than your local New York parks and piers.
Numerous organizations and companies, such as the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Time Warner Cable and HBO, have organized free film series to be hosted at various parks and piers around the city this summer.
“The idea was simple, one movie every Friday at different location in the city for free,” said Kareen Rispal, Culture Counselor of the French Embassy, as she kicked off the French film series in Washington Square Park on June 18th.
That idea has expanded to approximately 12 locations all around the city. Whereas some parks have been doing this for almost two decades, the HBO Bryant Park Film Festival is now in its 18th year, others have only been hosting a film series for a few years.
Having multiple locations is definitely a plus because it gives movie-goers options. On a Friday night alone, there are three different movies showing at different spots around the city and the experience is as varied as the movies.
At the kick off French Culture film in Washington Square Park on June 18th, there were approximately 200 people scattered on blankets and white plastic lawn chairs in front of the big inflated screen. Some people came prepared with food and saved seats for friends while others just walked over after seeing the screen and crowd in the park.
“I don’t even know what movie is showing,” said Bronx resident, Emmy Vargas. “I was sitting around reading when I saw the screen and the people so I came over.” Moments later Vargas and the rest of the crowd were handed a flyer with the upcoming French movies in Washington Square and Tompkins Square Park.
As the film progressed, the crowd laughed, clapped and cheered on the unique story line of the French film 8 Femme (8 Women). At the end the crowd erupted in applause and guests, most of whom had probably never seen a French film, discussed the movie as they packed up their belongings.
Uptown at Bryant Park three days later there was a similar scene except with a crowd over ten times the size of that at Washington Square Park. A Bryant Park employee, who walked around with a counter in his hand, estimated that there were approximately 3,000 people scattered across the lawn and green chairs that afternoon. People arrived well before 5 p.m. even though the movie, Goldfinger, started at 9 p.m. (a little later than normal due to the summer solstice that evening). Viewers were only allowed to enter near the Sixth Avenue entrance where security checked bags.
Quite a few attendees had picnic baskets or went to grab a box of pizza or food of some kind when they realized how long the wait would be. However, those who found out about the movie through the website might have seen a link to nearby Wichcraft restaurant, offering pre-orders and pick-ups ready just in time for the evening’s show.
As the crowd waited there were routine announcements about restroom facilities and even movie facts. Did you know that Orson Welles was the actor they initially wanted to play Goldfinger? There was even a group discussion about the movie on the far side of the park at 7 p.m.
For the most part, everyone was very respectful of each other. Allowing late comers to squeeze in on open spots of grass and passing chairs around to those who needed a seat. Just beware of the smoker sitting next to you on the grass. After being packed in like sardines, some guests would light up a cigarette and smoke where they sat.
Though the experiences in the two different parks were vastly different, they were both enjoyable all the same. This free summer movies series is just another one of those hidden gems New York has to offer so pick a movie, pack a picnic, head on over to your local park or pier and enjoy the show.
Intrepid Summer Movie Series
Ghostbusters – July 9
The Goonies – July 23
Raiders of the Lost Ark – August 6
Rocky – August 20
Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservatory: Movies with a View
Annie Hall – July 8
Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D – July 15
The Big Lebowski – July 22
Rear Window – July 29
Brokeback Mountain – August 5
Dreamgirls – August 12
The Blues Brothers – August 19
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – August 26
Public Vote! – September 2
HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
Carousel – June 28
The French Connection – July 5
My Man Godfrey – July 12
The China Syndrome – July 19
Monty Python and the Holy Grail – July 26
Rosemary’s Baby – August 2
The Goodbye Girl – August 9
12 Angry Men – August 16
Bonnie and Clyde – August 23
Roosevelt Island Outdoor Movie Series
Zoolander – July 10
Conspiracy Theory – July 24
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – August 7
Nighthawks – August 21
Movie Nights on the Elevated Acre
Broadway Danny Rose – July 29
Auntie Mame – August 5
The Country Girl – August 12
The Muppets take Manhattan – August 19
Movies Under the Stars (Pier I @ 70th Street)
Grease Sing-A-Long – June 30
The Neverending Story – July 7
Pan’s Labyrinth – July 14
Inkheart – July 21
The Fall – July 28
Big Fish – August 4th
Stranger Than Fiction – August 11
RiverFlicks for Grown-Ups (Pier 54)
The Hangover – July 7
I Love You, Man – July 14
The Proposal – July 21
District 9 – July 28
Julie and Julia – August 4
Public Enemies – August 11
Star Trek – August 18
RiverFlicks for Kids (Pier 46)
The Wizard of Oz – July 9
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – July 16
The Great Muppet Caper – July 23
Monsters vs. Aliens – July 30
Big – August 6
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – August 13
Annie – August 20
Tony Dapolito Recreation Center
Rooftop Film Noir Screenings:
Mildred Pierce – July 1
Laura – July 8
Double Indemnity – July 15
Sunset Boulevard – July 22
All About Eve – July 29
The Vault of Horror Flicks:
Freaks – August 6
Invasion of the Body Snatcher – August 13
Night of the Living Dead – August 20
Rosemary’s Baby – August 27
Summer Screen at the ball fields at McCarren Park
Say Anything – July 7
Labyrinth – July 14
Romeo + Juliet – July 21
Dead Man – July 28
Starship Troopers – August 4
Point Break – August 11
Astoria Park’s Free Movies on the Waterfront
West Side Story – August 2
Fame – August 9
The Lion King – August 16
March of the Penguins – August 23
French Culture: Films on the Green Goes Musical
A Woman is a Woman – July 2
Love Songs – July 9
Tosca: the Movie – July 16
Summer Stars 2010