City to host free outdoor movie series

The Downtown Berkeley Association announced yesterday plans for a free outdoor summer movie series in the Downtown during the month of August.

At the event, which is called the Center Street Summer Cinema, movies will be shown for free on Saturday evenings in August in the Bank of America parking lot on Center Street, according to John Caner, executive director of the association, which was involved in planning and leading the event. The movies will be projected on the west wall of the old University of California Printing Plant building, he said.

According to Caner, participants will be able to dine alfresco from local restaurants on Center Street at tables and chairs starting at 6:30 p.m. Those who show up before the 8:30 p.m. start time for films will be able to enjoy music, painting, and cartoons, he said.

“It’s going to provide a fun opportunity to bring people together of all different ages and walks of life and enjoy our public spaces,” Caner said. “It’s also going to benefit the downtown business and bring people who’ll be eating at the downtown restaurants.”

Movies shown will be chosen through an online survey, according to Caner. Voters can choose from a preset list of movies provided by the association, or they may suggest one of their own choosing, he said.

The end date for the survey has yet to be finalized, but Caner said he encourages students to vote before July 6.

Caleb Dardick, UC Berkeley director of local government and community relations, said that there may be potential difficulties in deciding on a movie that everyone wants to see.

“It’s always difficult to find a film that everyone agrees on, but I’m sure there are going to be choices that reflect the humor and intelligence of the community,” he said.

The event is part of a broader effort to bring the Berkeley community together to the Downtown, according to Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin. He added that he believes there is interest in the community for events like this.

“Two to three thousand people showed up to the first (Off the Grid Berkeley) that started earlier this month,” he said. “People are looking for cool, exciting new things to do that will bring the community together, and I think that there will definitely be interest in this.”

If the event is successful, the event will likely be continued next year, Arreguin said.

According to Dardick, the event will provide a space for students to interact with the larger Berkeley community.

“Lots of Cal students rarely go very far from campus as they should be focused on their studies, and what we want them to know is that Downtown is a place that welcomes them,” he said.