Drive-By Cinema is a new, experimental initiative of the Pacific Arts Movement (formerly known as the San Diego Asian Film Foundation), supported by the James Irvine Foundation. It is a two-year project, where a re-purposed truck drives to site specific locales and screen various films as one part of its street intervention & social intersection.
The formal debut of the Drive-By Cinema (DBC) appeared last month at Euclid Ave. and El Cajon Blvd. The truck was parked on the street, specifically in front of a business store which was once the State Theater. It was a community landmark in the '80s for its Southeast Asian residents, after a young Vietnamese businessman bought the theater and screened Kung-fu films on his opening night. All 1,000 seats were filled that same night.
Two stores down is a local bar called the 'Til-Two Club. Originally established in 1948 and then resurrected in 2010, the bar also participated in this event and hosted an after party and more Kung-fu film screenings.
I find DBC's approach of mobilizing a temporary theater as a way of honoring and fostering community as an interesting concept. Rather than establishing a drive-in theater, why not bring the theater to you and your community? Folding chairs, lion dancers, and a popcorn machine enhanced the experience of the launch. The sidewalk was packed, making it difficult for passersby to tread through. And heads were tilted upward towards the portable movie screen which was mounted above the Drive-By truck. I would say the DBC made its mission in re-activating a public space for its viewers and participants to engage in a way that was both thoughtful and fun.
So far, DBC has driven its way around the Mid-center and Southeastern parts San Diego. They parked outside of the Salvation Army Kroc Center and screened additional films, with kids playing with shadow puppets inside of the truck. And last last Saturday, DBC re-appeared outside of the Malcolm X Library and screened more Kung-fu films.
I'm looking forward to the next DBC event at the end of the month, which is going to be at the parking lot outside of Operation Samahan health clinic in National City, CA. To learn more and follow what DBC is up to, you can visit http://drivebycinema.com/ and look up their tumblr, flickr and facebook links from there.