As the balmy evenings settle in, so too does the desire for a love affair with a tub of ice cream at one of Australia’s most iconic outdoor cinemas.
Now in its 10th year, Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinema is a summer institution that travels nationwide regaling film fanatics and picnicmakers alike. This year it returns to the green that overlooks Bondi Beach from Friday January 24, where it’ll remain for six long, summer weeks of movies, music and munchies.
Caroline Kemp, Openair’s event manager agrees ours was a city destined for an open-air culture. “I think Sydney is a beautiful city and being surrounded by water it makes for a great outdoor entertaining scene,” she says. “People are keen to be involved in something different. Watching a movie outdoors is different from going to the pub and drinking with mates. You can still engage in a social activity, but you can also watch a beautiful movie, under the stars, on the grass, with the sea breeze flowing, and really enjoy this beautiful lifestyle of ours.”
Films set to screen as part of Openair’s 2014 season include: The Wolf Of Wall Street, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, American Hustle and Anchorman 2. “I think The Wolf will be a great one outdoors,” says Kemp of her pick of the mix. “Another one I’m really looking forward to is Dirty Dancing on Valentine’s Day. And we have a couple of Bondi-themed nights with Point Break … and The Big Blue, which is one of my favourite cult films.”
What about those munchies? “They’ll be Ben & Jerry’s, obviously,” says Kemp. Particularly on Sundae Sessions, which are a family friendly melting pot of live entertainment, outdoor games, and free tubs of B&Js. But for every other occasion there is Doughboy pizza and drinks for purchase. “We have a liquor license which is a really nice complement to the relaxed atmosphere,” says Kemp. “So people can come and listen to some nice music, have a glass of wine and watch the sun go down.”
Now one may assume that Kemp, a former actor/theatre producer, current event manager and self-confessed “straight from the tub” B&J’s Triple Choc Fudge indulger, accepted her role with Openair for the special access privileges to the on-site ice cream stash. But whether true or not, there was another motive behind her decision seven months ago to join the team. “I live five minutes from the cinema,” she says. “So I’ll be going down a lot – particularly on the days when we have live bands.” Which are Saturdays and Sundays, by the way.
The incorporation of live music prior to screenings is paramount to the Openair experience. After gates open at 6pm, weekend ticket holders, along with their picnic blankets and beanbags, will leg it to premium spots on the green before being entertained by a carefully selected local act. “We try and promote local artists in each city and we try and pair them with the movie if we can. For instance, on Australia Day we’re screening Crocodile Dundee and we’ve got a nice up-and-coming musician called Franky Walnut who has that Australian vibe going on,” says Kemp. “Where we can’t [pair music with movie], we try and pick some up-and-comer who matches well with our event instead. We look for artists with nice acoustic instruments that complement the whole summer, free, relaxed, happy vibe.”
Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinema can be found on Dolphin Lawn at Bondi Beach from Friday January 24 until Sunday March 2.