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Open-air films a city tradition
By Xu Wei

ON summer evenings, watching open-air movies is a traditional way of entertainment for many Shanghai residents. It is also part of the city’s history.

The entertainment flourished in the 1970s when there was no air-conditioner and very few Chinese families had TV sets.

It declined later with the construction of many air-conditioned theaters. However, it did not vanish from people’s memory and sight.

In the 2000s, many parks in the city began to offer free open-air summer movies. The entertainment has not only evoked older people’s nostalgia for their childhood fun, but offered today’s young generation a new and fresh alternative to gather in leisure time.

From July 1 to September 30, local movie buffs are offered free screenings of more than 200 classic films and recent productions in 28 parks and greenlands around the city.

The movies cover a wide range of genres and subjects. Among them are the romantic comedy “Finding Mr Right,” the youth film “So Young,” martial arts film “Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon,” comedy “Lost in Thailand” and classic war epic “Reconnaissance Across the Yangtze.”

It is the 10th year that the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau has hosted open-air film screenings in local parks.

Officials from the bureau say they have seen a growing number of people attending the open-air cinemas. Last summer, about 65,000 people watched the free movies, an 8-percent increase over the previous year.

Elderly people and children make up the largest proportion of viewers, but the entertainment also appeals to a few young adults and tourists who find it novel and interesting.

“For us it is a win-win approach,” says Sun Hui, an official with the bureau. “While many local people are offered free movies, the popularity and prestige of the parks and greenlands in the city will also be raised.”

Alex Huang, an IT worker in his 30s, recalls watching open-air films with his parents in the 1980s. It was one of the most important forms of entertainment in his childhood, and he watched a lot of classic Chinese movies at that time such as “Tunnel Warfare” and “Zhang Ga the Soldier Boy.”

“I drew a lot of fun from it and even when it was raining, I wouldn’t miss the open-air cinema,” Huang says. “Though we have a lot of entertainment today, it still has a charm for its flexibility and heated atmosphere.”

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