Tel Aviv-Yafo goes ‘retro’ with Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema
By David E. Kaplan
Those old enough, would well remember the “Drive-In”? Whether in the USA, South Africa, Australia and yes, Israel’s Tel Aviv, couples used to pile into their cars to watch movies and snack at the same time, without someone bellowing “keep quiet!” Sound came from speakers clipped to the car window – not that the quality mattered too much in those days.
It was the age of motorcar romance and as one commentator so ‘fondly’ recalls, “Whether they watched the movies or not depended on how friendly they were.” And as I recall, those sixties and seventies horror movies were a ‘sure thing’ to engineer getting extra ‘friendly’.
No doubt, the Drive-In played its role in propagating our species.
Unlike today when Tel Aviv is in the vanguard for innovation, the “City that never sleeps” came late to the ‘Drive-In’’ party.
Only opening its first Drive-In in 1973 north of the Yarkon River with Disney’s Jungle Book, it remained open until 2000, finally giving way in 2014 to the Shalom Group Arena, the home ground for the Hapoel Tel-Aviv basketball club. Most important, it retained its huge parking area from the Drive-In era and to mark the annual romantic Jewish holiday – Israel’s Valentine’s Day – of TuB’Av (4th August) – it was back in business. In the City’s press release, it advertised the Drive-In’s opening with the anatomically suggestive “for the romantically inclined”!
On select evenings of the week during the sweltering summer month of August, in conjunction with the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, there will be screenings for 200 cars, strictly in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines and “purple badge” public health standards. Movie audio is transmitted in high quality via an FM radio frequency. “Tel Aviv is the ‘non-stop city’ but the coronavirus outbreak understandably halted a large share of cultural and leisure activity,” said Tel Aviv-Yafo Mayor Ron Huldai. “Nevertheless, we constantly searched for creative ways to grant residents access to culture. The return of the drive-in is another creative way to pass the hot August days, in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines.”
The director of the culture department in the Tel Aviv municipality, Shavei Mizrahi, said that in light of the high demand for screenings, “a reassessment of the situation will be made, and the intention is to conduct more screening days, including weekends.”
Down By The Riverside
Tel Aviv is characterized by always taking things to the next level and in this case from land to water. Fresh off the successful return of Tel Aviv’s legendary drive-in theatre, Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality was delighted to announce on the 9 August, the launch of Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema at HaYarkon Park’s boating lake.
With the Coronavirus pandemic proving particularly challenging for the entertainment industry worldwide, outdoor initiatives represented almost the sole solution for cultural events.
Following Health Ministry approval for open-air drive-in events, Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality again in partnership with Tel Aviv Cinematheque, will launch a “Sail-In” floating cinema under the clear night sky from August 22-28.
A total of 70 ‘socially distanced’ boats will be available to moviegoers, adults and children alike, seeking to enjoy a night of cinematic entertainment under the stars.
Like people in public, boats will be distanced two meters apart at all times opposite a large screen, ensuring a safe and fun experience, and allowing all ticketholders to float and unwind and escape the daily grind in a serene atmosphere between the water and the stars. If movie-goers are unlikely to hear other patrons crunching their popcorn, they may hear the night owls, crickets and frogs – nature’s divine soundtrack.
Tickets for eight screenings – four suitable for families and four suitable for adults – will be available exclusively to DigiTel Resident Card holders.
The launch of the “Sail-In” floating cinema joins a long list of municipal initiatives that include fitness classes on the roof of the Tel Aviv municipality building and musical performances on the roof of the Eretz Israel Museum.
Tel Aviv is in the forefront of coming up with creative ideas during corona as befitting one of my favourite monikers:
“The city that wakes each morning wondering what it’s going to be.”
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