I’m sure you’ve heard of Drive in theaters, but have you ever heard of Cemetery Screenings?
I heard whispers (or rather shouts) of this intriguing mode of movie-watching, but I never got to experience it until my buddy Lena invited me to join her and a few friends last May 12th.
Cinespia came up with the idea of screening movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery about a decade ago and since then, thousands of people flock to the site every Saturday during the summer months for the amazing experience.
Why the Hollywood Forever Cemetery? Well, first it’s located right beside the Paramount Film Studios, and second, it’s where celebrities such as famous Hollywood actors, film producers and directors have been laid to rest. (Apparently they enjoy movies even in the afterlife.)
There was already a long line of people with picnic baskets (some dressed in costume) at the cemetery entrance by the time we arrived in the area at 630pm. Lena had signed up early so she’d gotten us parking passes along with the movie tickets, but since the gates opened at 7pm exactly, we had to park somewhere first to pass the time.
When the gates opened, we drove in and followed the throng of people headed toward the massive field at the center of the cemetery.
Seeing all the ornate tombstones that housed the dead, alongside living, breathing, and laughing people with picnic baskets was an interesting experience, to say the least.
Once we had parked, we hauled our blankets and bags of food out of the car’s trunk. Lena’s friends had gotten there early and had found a spot at the very edge of the field, where the grass met the road. We trudged toward the area and quickly laid out our blankets before more people arrived.
The movie was supposed to start at 830pm, when the sky got dark enough. While waiting, we all shared the food and wine we’d brought to the event.
I also did an impromptu personality reading for some new friends while we ate. They all encouraged me to open a psychic shop after my reading.
As the sky grew darker, the organizers began to project commercials for their upcoming screenings onto the big white wall at the other end of the field. The DJ began to soften the music as the founder of Cinespia came on stage and welcomed us to the event.
Finally, after a round of applause, he stepped down and the movie began.
The movie, directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock (whose tombstone lay directly behind us), starred Farley Granger as Guy Haines, a famous tennis player, and Robert Walker as Bruno Antony, the man with the crazy murder scheme, whom Guy meets on the train.
I had never watched a Hitchcock film before them, and boy, was it an awesome experience. Though the movie was filmed in black and white, I was completely sucked into the story. I would’ve enjoyed the movie a lot more if I didn’t have to move every time some person stood up to go to the restroom (or to be more precise, the toilet cabins).
I had a great time and really enjoyed the experience, though I did get a migraine after the movie. And that was only because some crazy people behind us decided to smoke weed and the smell just about killed me.
As expected, getting out of the cemetery was a bit of a toughie, but Lena managed to get us home safely somehow.
But despite the traffic of both people and cars, this is one event I’d definitely recommend. If you happen to be in Los Angeles around the summer time, do consider watching a movie at the cemetery! It’s one experience you’re bound to remember forever.
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