Vilnius Airport has found a unique way of utilising its temporarily empty apron area during the COVID-19 pandemic by opening a drive-in cinema. The ‘Aerocinema – The Journey Begins’ project runs until the end of May as part of the Vilnius International Film Festival (IFF).
Despite growing and continuously adding new destinations in recent years, the airport has quietened down while waiting for international travel restrictions to be lifted. The organisers of Vilnius IFF saw this downtime as an opportunity to screen films while cinemas are closed.
The project is a sign of support to both the aviation and movie industries, which are going through difficult times as a result of the restrictions caused by the pandemic.
“We want to create a unique experience,” says Algirdas Ramaška, General Director of Vilnius IFF. “Going out onto an airport apron, which is usually only possible to access after check-in, is an exciting experience. I think these screenings will leave an impression on audiences that will last a lifetime.”
Up to 200 cars are able to fit into the screening area at once to watch a movie. The project’s organisers have also made sure that everyone will be able to see every detail of each film, thanks to the largest screen in the Baltic States, which is roughly the size of a five-storey building. The sound system, on the other hand, has been traded in for car radios, just like traditional drive-in cinemas.
“Implementing this project was a pleasant challenge for us – we had to remake the airport apron, which is a restricted area, into a space open to film lovers,” says Dainius Čiuplys, the head of Vilnius Airport. “It is a nice opportunity to be a part of the whole process and at the same time to show that airports perfectly combine aviation activities with events and projects of various formats. I believe that after the drive-in cinema events, there will be even more lovers not only of good cinema, but also of aviation.”
The drive-in cinema makes it easy to follow physical distancing guidelines and other necessary security measures. Tickets are only available online and only cars with a maximum of two people are allowed into the screening area.