Neighbours enjoy outdoor movie screenings during Covid crisis

Scott Duggan of Windmill Rd, Cork, with his projector showing classic movies for his neighbours, lessening the sense of isolation while all keep their physical distance. Last Friday, he showed ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, starring Marilyn Monroe. Picture: Clare Keogh
By Eoin English
Irish Examiner Reporter

From indoor streaming to outdoor screening — neighbours on a city terrace have found a novel way to combat social isolation.

They enjoyed an outdoor screening of a Hollywood classic from the comfort of their front gardens— all while observing physical distancing and social isolation guidelines.

The residents of Frankfield Villas, a terrace of 14 houses on Windmill Rd near Cork city centre, set up couches, patio heaters and outdoors lights in their front gardens to watch the 1953 Marilyn Monroe classic comedy, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, last weekend.

The movie was projected onto the gable-end of a house on the terrace while the soundtrack was broadcast to their radios. And they all made a contribution to Age Action.

Long-time Windmill Rd resident, Ann Lynch, who has lived on the street for 54 years, said it was the best community event she had ever seen.

The idea was the brainchild of local resident Scott Duggan, the technical manager of the Cyclone Rep theatre company.

He said he felt he had to do something to maintain a sense of community and solidarity during the Covid-19 crisis.

“The absence of the shared experience has been one of the most difficult things that people have had to adjust to across the globe over the last number of weeks,” he said.

“Whether that experience is the cinema, the theatre, the local pub, sports events or major public gatherings, staying apart is not normal behaviour for huge swathes of the population.

“Older people may not have the ease of access to streaming services that are taken for granted in other households.

The impromptu movies provide some safe entertainment and an important sense of community that a lot of people are missing out on right now.

Scott ran the outdoor cinema idea by his neighbours last week and borrowed the projector and technical equipment from the theatre company before the first screening on Friday night.

“The movie night was so well received on the street that we are looking to do it again,” he said.

“It would ideal to set it up at nursing homes or elderly care centres.

“All I need is a flat surface, a power point and a big wall.

“People can then tune in on an FM band and enjoy watching a classic movie ‘with’ all their neighbours.

“It’s important that this is just for the residents who can safely watch while maintaining distance.

I think people are finding it hard being separated and if it brings any bit of joy to people in this difficult time then I would love to do it.”

The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:

  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing