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Event 51: Outdoor Cinema Bologna…time to watch a French movie in Italy

This blog is being written only now due to being too busy to write before Pamplona however it was a special event…

Outside cinema in 25 degrees with thunderstorms threatening to drop a bit of sound and visual effects into the experience. Welcome to Bologna and to the forward thinking events and culture programme they are creating…


What was the event?

Cinema Ritrovato Festival

June until late July and I was there on the 2nd and 3rd of July.

The story…

Falling into Bologna I couldn’t have wished to have fallen into an amazing place. Culture oozed from buildings and in the various plaeza’s. One plaza was slightly different as it had a large LIKE HUGE screen and 2000 chairs set out. Immediately I was curious and then realised this would be event 51. Every night for 6 weeks to plaza’s in Bologna have open air cinema. They are free and they are always full. These aren’t aimed at tourists these are for the locals. It gives them something and somewhere to go.


Each movie starts at 9:45pm at night and by 8:30pm the seats are full. Of course depending on what film but on the two nights I explored it they were full with the second night giving me my first event evacuation experience on this adventure. On the first night the movie was a French film with English and Italian subtitles. But it was full. Like no seats. Packed into this amazing square to just relax, switch off and be part of something packaged well. Movies can bring people together and with the use of space spot on it was exactly what happened.

I watched families descend with picnics into the set out rows. I watched people meander from restaurants and grab a seat. I watched first dates and some even last dates take a seat to enjoy the spectacle. On the first night the event was perfect. It was busy. It went ahead. Only one thing for the first night the opening director or whoever spoke – spoke for 12 minutes. Even I was getting a bit yawny listening and the crowd were completely switched off. But the movie began and so it was on…


However, the second night at 9:15 – the event was about to descend into chaos. I sat on the steps of the basicilla of Bologna where I was about to meet my two new best friends Stephen and Denise. They were absolutely gems and we got on so well. So sitting at the steps watching and observing the event – it was soon clear a thunder storm was rolling in. Lightening bolts could be seen over the terracotta timing of Bologna as the wind was picking up vigrusly and it began a obvious panic. No rain dropped as yet but then it began. An announcement was made by the events spokesperson and suddenly everyone stood up and it was on. The evacuation was quite late to the event which meant it was full. Police were patrolling each night the whole event as well an ambulance as part of the event emergency plan. However, on the second night the ambulance was late – so after the event was being evacuated and cancelled the ambulance drove in to the square. The staff were too occupied trying to answer questions from participants and catch the barriers which began to fall due to the strong gusts coming from a easterly direction.


The whole programme was part of “Be Welcome” campaign by Bologna. It’s about using the spaces they have for different events and activities and I’ll tel you something – it was by far my most favourite campaign I have witness so far. It was bright in colour, it seemed by diverse in the activities of free events and it was bold and innovative. The question I know they no doubt ask is – what are we actually gaining from free events. Why won’t we charge? However the answer is to allow locals to have a bond and a connection with their town. It’s about saying come and watch a movie together. It’s brilliant and I love it. It’s different and it’s clever. These events are forwarding thinking to the future because yes it’s a cost and an outgoing by different organisations with a very small return but actually the return will be 10 fold.

To see more about Bologna Estate – be here campaign please see below:


One thing to take away…

Anywhere around the world have the ability to create a strategy such as Bologna. Introducing this type of plan takes guts – but guts pays off when the future is easy to see…

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