In the summer, the majority of indoor cinemas close and the open-air cinemas take over. Other cities occasionally dabble in open-air cinemas ? temporary ones are occasionally set up in London parks, for example ? but in Greece they are a well-established feature in the evening entertainment scene and a must-try experience during any visit.The set-up is usually very simple and apart from the technology, nothing much has changed since the opening of the first open-air cinema, "The Boboniera", in 1919 in Kifissia. They are usually in what resembles a walled garden and often have enormous and beautiful bushes of fragrant jasmine and bougainvillea growing along their boundaries. The screen is at one end and is smaller than those that you find in most indoor cinemas, but it is always more than sufficient for the comparatively small seating capacity. The chairs are usually canvas or plastic chairs of the type that you might find in someone's garden and have small tables dotted between them, on which you can place whatever goodies you buy from the small bar usually positioned in a corner somewhere.
The open-air cinemas re-run films that were released during the previous winter, show re-runs of classic films and put on a few new releases. Although the film may completely capture your attention, it is worth finding a few moments to take a look at your surroundings from your seat. In Athens, what you will see will vary greatly depending on which cinema you go to. For example, if you go to the Thiseion cinema on the fantastic pedestrianised Apostolou Pavlou Street, you will have the opportunity to take in a great view of the Acropolis. In other cinemas, you may find yourself surrounded by apartment blocks with their rows of balconies above your head, decorated with colours reflected from the screen. It is quite a surreal experience to watch a film in such close proximity to other people's homes and if you look closely, you may even spot one of the residents enjoying the film along with you, from a spot on their balcony.
Foreign films, i.e. non-Greek films, are always screened in the original language with Greek subtitles, so you can see any English language film without any problems.
The film screening times are usually around 9pm and 11pm and the programme changes on Fridays. There is always an intermission half way through the film. For a few days during the summer, when you attend the early screening it may not be dark enough outside for you to be able to properly see the action on the screen for the first couple of minutes ? this is bearable though with a bit of squinting. Admission fees are around 7 Euros. Enjoy!..Emmanuel Mendonca moved from the UK to Athens in 2004 and is getting to grips with life in Greece. Emmanuel publishes Greece travel and living articles at http://www.athensroom.com/greece_travel_guide.html.
By: Emmanuel Mendonca