SUNDAY TIMES - 'It's like the drive-in, without the cars': open-air cinema comes to Pretoria
Sunday Times Entertainment By Yolisa Mkele, 2017-04-05 10:14:55.0

'It's like the drive-in, without the cars': open-air cinema comes to Pretoria

Get yourself to the Cowhouse Market in Pretoria for a unique movie-going experience.
Image: Supplied

Once upon a time people used to congregate on open pieces of land to watch stories on a large, flickering screen.

Being suckers for nostalgia, many a millennial has taken a shine to this ritual. After all, who wouldn't like the idea of being exposed to the elements while you enjoy your movie?

As of this weekend, Varslug Flieks (Fresh Air Films) and the Cowhouse Market in Pretoria will be helping lovers of outdoor cinema indulge their fetish.

"It is like the old drive-ins - just without the cars," said CD van Reenen, the founder of Varslug Flieks. He got the idea to start hosting outdoor movie screenings after seeing something similar in Canada and thinking South Africa's weather would work with it perfectly.

Van Reenen began travelling around the countryside armed with a giant inflatable screen and a passion for entertaining people.

He is particularly interested in getting movies out to people in small rural towns who, due to their remote locations, often don't get to see new movies unless they head out to the city or someone downloads titles for them.

"I like to see outdoor films as an experience that includes the movie. I've done screenings on rooftops and in the Namibian desert and it is always great to see how much people enjoy themselves," he said.

Part of the beauty of outdoor cinema is that it offers the chance to enjoy things not typically encouraged at traditional cinemas.

Children can gallivant and their parents can socialise without being passive-aggressively tutted by someone three rows away. Van Reenen's partnership with the Cowhouse Market plays into this by offering all the usual artisanal trappings like craft beer and fancy foodstuffs.

The movie selection will initially feature films from the childhoods of Generation X-ers, starting with Grease.

"The hardest part of this whole thing has been picking which movies to show. We're going with older popular ones for now because I think people will enjoy them, but in the future we hope the audience themselves will choose," said Van Reenen.

"I'd also like to focus on locally produced movies because they're getting better and better."

Sitting in front of your laptop watching grainy copies of screen gems from the 1980s is very anti-social. If you're a Millennial trying to show Baby Boomers that your generation isn't as reclusive as it's made out to be, this may do the trick. If it doesn't, at least you'll get a breath of fresh air.

The first Varslug Flieks screening will take place at the Cowhouse Market in Pretoria on Friday, April 7, at 6pm. For more info visit

This article was originally published in The Times.