Back in April at the Tribeca Film Festival, New Yorkers were invited to vote for their favorite NYC-centered film and the winner would then be shown simultaneously in each borough early in the summer. The winner was announced recently as, “When Harry Met Sally,” and last night it was screened in every borough, starting at sunset. Queens had theirs in the Socrates Sculpture Park, and the one in Staten Island was at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark; two locations that are perfect for a large amount of people. They both happen to be in less-populated areas. It is hard to see how Manhattan’s 8 million residents were given Solar One, a solar-powered green energy center. The facilities are almost entirely solar powered, showing the public what can be achieved with alternative energy sources. That’s a great sentiment, one that I totally support, but possibly not the best location for a hugely popular film screening. Even if the entire movie ran off solar energy last night, which is a really cool idea, the seating area was a small patch of cement by the side of the East River. My group originally considered going to the Brooklyn screening at the beach at Coney Island, but settled on staying in Manhattan because of convenience. It was later discovered that the Brooklyn screening in Coney Island had been cancelled because it was too windy. Brooklyn dwellers may have made their way to the Manhattan screening too, causing it to be an even more popular location.
I was shocked to arrive about 40 minutes before the posted start time to see a crowd of people waiting along the road looking for places to sit, with possibly a hundred seats that had been set up and already taken. The rest of the early arrivals found places to sit and created camps against the fence along the river with their blankets and pillows, and bottles of Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck.” A couple next to us were stretched out completely on the ground, taking up enough room for at least five people. They were not exactly the best neighbors. Luckily, someone I was meeting had arrived earlier than the rest of us and had snagged a spot on the ground with a blanket. Within a half hour of the film’s start time and the rest of my group having shown up, it was so packed that unless you were meeting someone already on the inside, there was no chance that you would be let into the enclosure. Even after the movie started, it was difficult to hear some of the dialog with the sounds of traffic surrounding us, as well as the headlights blasting into my peripheral vision every now and then. Not that I want the evening to be clouded with negativity; it was a great time, after all. I love it when I can blend friend groups, as they did last night when I sat with my cousin, a friend of a friend (who has since become my friend too), a colleague from work, and another friend from my freshman year of college. I love the idea of the free outdoor film and they don’t show nearly enough romantic comedies! (Honestly, I think we’ve all had enough westerns or murder mysteries.) The highlight was the weather, it could not have been a better evening to be outside by the water. There was a perfect breeze and the temperature was ideal. I hope to see another free screening soon, preferably somewhere I can stretch out.