Cinema Brings Everyone to the Yard!
Lost The Plot is proud to be associated with The Courtyard as film licensing partner for their incredible Movie Under The Stars nights. Read on to know how this cafe and arts venue in Bangalore has optimised on 'outdoor cinema' to build a community around their space.
Once upon a time, on a planet far far away, friends, families, lovers and children would get together over the weekend and head over to their nearest cinema to buy their tickets to worlds elsewhere. Sometimes they travelled to another country, sometimes to rural hinterlands of their own, at other times they flew through outer space, amidst galaxies and stars, and a few times they even went backwards and forwards in time! Cinema is after all, our gateway to the beyond.
But with 2020 having spearheaded us into a seemingly isolated future, what will become of social gatherings? Especially those around film viewing? We can no longer deny the ease of watching movies created by streaming platforms, not to mention the huge influx of options they throw at us - be it old time classics or edgy indie films. But we wonder whether the impact of a Godfather or a Baahubali can truly be felt on your 11” screen. India is a country nurtured by films. Movies speak to us in a language we don’t necessarily understand, but certainly feel. How does one harness this ephemeral power of cinema to bring people together, so that watching films can once again be filled with the excitement of occasion, with its whispered discussions, laughter, snide comments, and crooning along to songs?
The Courtyard, a cafe, wine bar and community space located within a 100 year old heritage bungalow in Bangalore, India seems to have found a way. Their ‘Movie Under the Stars’ nights, which take place twice a month, look and feel like a movie buff’s dream - warm, relaxed and magical! While chatting with the founder, Akhila Srinivas, who is also an architect and urban planner, she told us how she was inspired and charmed by the movies she watched in parks and public spaces in New York and London. This, along with her earnestness to curate good art in public spaces in her home city, inspired her to start screening films in 2019. Since then they have hosted over 15 screenings in the quaint, green central courtyard from which the venue derives its name, with Lost The Plot onboard as their official film licensing partner.
A movie night at the Courtyard is designed with the aim of providing a ‘movie in the park’ feel, complete with food, wine and pretty, ambient lighting. During their ‘Foodflix’ editions, they also work with chefs to add an interesting twist to the experience; a customised food menu, which recreates dishes from the country that’s being shown on screen! Digging deeper into the kind of films they screen, Akhila says, “We usually do movies for both kids and adults. For kids we always try to keep it as a slice of world cinema with some artsy leanings, while for adults, it's a mix of alternative, indie, cult classics, and global cinema. At the end of the day it's meant to be a community event where one grows a fraternity of film buffs.” Thanks to Lost The Plot’s vast catalogue which covers all titles from 4 major Hollywood studios including Disney, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., and 20th Century Studios (previously Fox) as well as a recently added selection of Indian independent films, The Courtyard has hosted friends and families alike for movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Little Miss Sunshine, Horton Hears a Who!, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Chocolat, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Bonnie & Clyde, Julie & Julia and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.
On working with Lost The Plot, Akhila says, “Nikita (the founder) has been great! She's professional, has a great understanding of her work and helps us curate very well. We are very happy with our association. Lost The Plot also helps us market, which is great and adds its weight to these experiences. The legitimacy it brings to our movie nights, with film copyrights and licensing in proper place, is a very clean affair.” She adds that the movie screenings have helped in cementing The Courtyard as a community space for Bangalore. The film curation helps in enhancing their commitment to arts and alternative work, adding to the vibe, reputation and expectation of the space, which in turn helps business!
But life at The Courtyard came to a standstill from March to September 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the tectonic shifts the whole world experienced during this time, naturally, when screenings resumed in October, there were a lot of changes to be made; for starters, a smaller audience size of 20 people as compared to the nearly 80 folks attending each screening before. Akhila adds that the screenings also became more ‘professional’, with strict social distancing, ticketing, and sanitisation norms in place. She says, “Keeping the numbers small, and creating an ambient and open space with great food and wine, essentially a safe place to go out to, has worked well in our favour.” Not only did the Courtyard team manage to customise their space for the new ‘socially distanced’ normal, they made it even more inviting than before, with each group now getting their own personalised seating on the grass to relax in during the film, replete with cozy mats and rugs, and low tables adorned with flowers and name cards. Lost The Plot too customised our services to match their new requirements, offering discounted fees as well as speeding up the studio approvals process so that licenses were in place, in a timely manner.
Returning to the question of watching films in the comfort of our houses vs. going all the way to a venue, Akhila says, “it's like being in a park! Why does one prefer to be in a park than one's own garden? Movies are a great community experience, elevated when done alongside your friends, family or strangers rather than alone. It's a great casual plan to make for an evening out. It may also add to one's sense of fulfilment, attending a community event. Like eating healthy food over junk! Being in the open always has a feel good factor.”
Her thoughts are echoed by Arpitha, who works in a consultancy firm in Bangalore, “What I like most about the Courtyard screenings is the experience; sitting under the stars, all cozy in your blanket. I found that my son was still too young to go to a theatre, where it’s kind of stiff, where you can’t suddenly get up without annoying the person sitting behind you, right? Here, it’s much more relaxed, and you can have a quiet conversation in the backdrop. For me, it’s a family experience.” Juhi, an architect, who has been attending Courtyard screenings since 2019, too nods in agreement, saying that her favourite thing about the screenings is that it’s like watching movies “in your own backyard,” under the stars and with good weather for company; exactly what sets movie nights at The Courtyard apart from home viewings or even theatres.
And who knew that a feeling of eating healthy food over junk could be so exhilarating! A community cinema experience that’s nurtured with passion, care and a focus on bringing quality films to people, can do wonders for the way we approach life itself. It gives us more space to be without being intimidated, there’s room for everyone’s thoughts (and even their restless kids!) and movie choices can be customised for and by the audience. But most importantly, such viewing experiences can help create bonds; between friends, amongst the audience, with your local venues and businesses, and help you be more in touch with your immediate surroundings and community. So the next time there’s a sudden, global shutdown, we need not feel so alone, but rather have real, tangible people and places to call our own. And of course, great cinema to keep boredom at bay and our imaginations alive!
Lost The Plot is India's first dedicated film distribution and licensing agency for the non-theatrical venue market. From cafes and community spaces to camping sites, malls, resorts, member's clubs and educational and corporate campuses, we enable 100% copyright compliant screenings in out of the box spaces for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. Write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your own community screening!