Movie bus brings back days of outdoor screenings

On the road, it looks like a regular lorry. But the 7.2m-long vehicle hides a secret: The side of its container slides open to reveal a movie screen.

The People's Association (PA) Be My Movie Kaki bus, or Movie Bus for short, will travel around the island this year to bring outdoor movie screenings to residents of public and private housing estates alike.

"It brings you back to the good old days of the Jurong open-air movie experience - I think that's something the younger generation has yet to experience" said Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, referring to the Jurong drive-in theatre from the 1970s.

Dr Koh, adviser to the Ang Mo Kio GRC grassroots organisations, was speaking last night at the launch of the bus at an open field in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8.

Hundreds of residents turned up for its maiden screening of a short film by local students followed by the animated family movie Minions.

With its 4.1m-wide, 2.3m-high LED screen, the vehicle will make its stops in neighbourhood parks, town centres, common spaces and private estates. Over 50 screenings in 25 locations have been lined up from this month to July, reaching more than 10,000 residents.

"In the '60s, residents gathered at community centres to watch television programmes with their neighbours," noted PA chief executive director Ang Hak Seng.

"While doing so, they got to know one another. So our grassroots leaders from the Residents' Committees (RCs) and Neighbourhood Committees (NCs) thought that this Movie Bus would be a great way to recreate that kampung spirit."

With movie-watching being a common pastime here, such screenings are a good way to get residents together, said Mr Bob Lau, chairman of the PA's Residents' Committee Council.

Screenings have been organised by the grassroots before, but on an ad hoc basis, he noted. "We want to make this more systematic and lessen the administrative work for the RCs and NCs."

The vehicle arrives in a neighbourhood bearing other fun activities, such as giant hopscotch and Twister boards. Said Mr Lau: "This whole Movie Bus package is something like a circus coming to town."

The PA will review the feedback in July to determine if the Movie Bus will keep travelling, he added.

Last night's screening, organised by Central NC and the Yio Chu Kang Zone 4 RC, also featured fringe activities such as ukelele players and a photo booth.

Mr Ang highlighted how the Movie Bus allows the grassroots to hold events outside the usual community centres. "I think it's particularly useful and convenient for our senior citizens, who can enjoy a movie together with their grandkids."

Madam Ee Kim See, 63, was at last night's screening with her husband, her daughter-in-law, and her two five-year-old grandsons.

"In the past, if there were programmes we wanted to see, we would go to the CC to watch them," she said. "Now, I can take my grandsons out for a movie here."

This article was first published on Jan 3, 2016.
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