With Solar Cinema, Dutch filmmaker Maureen Prins has launched an international project that combines the best of film culture and sustainability. She is bringing her solar powered screening system to areas in Europe where movie theaters no longer exist or where independent films cannot be seen.
“My first tour around Europe took me ten weeks”, says Maureen Prins, founder of Solar Cinema.
“I visited Roumania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland, and Italy.” She treats sustainability as an issue that is not limited to solar panels. Her repertoire includes “Go greener”, short films about climate change.
Technically, the solar cinema unit consists of a van with three or four solar panels attached to the roof, a converter/inverter that produces a 24-to-220 volt output, as well as batteries to store the energy.
With six batteries (which last about 16 hours), Prins can run five shows per week. “The batteries charge during the day”, explains the solar cinema expert.
“The efficiency drops only if it is really hot.” Her cinema equipment includes: an HD projector (5500 ANSI Lumens) that displays blu-ray, DVD and digital files; a stereo sound system with two 400-watt speakers; and a screen. In addition to an inflatable screen, she really wants a hybrid van.
Solar Cinema started in 2006 when the young filmmaker was touring the Netherlands in her van.
“I not only did outdoor screenings for festivals but also screenings in neighborhoods outside the city.” She teamed up with some enthusiastic Dutch female colleagues and founded the association Solar World Cinema. At the CICAE training program that brings together arthouse exhibitors from all over the world, Prins developed, along with a fellow South American team member, a concept for a solarpowered cinema network in Latin America. “We became a member of the mobile cinema network Red de Cines Itinerantes de América Latina”, says Prins. “The idea was to set up a solar-powered cinema because independent filmmakers are having trouble distributing films.”
But a shared model with thirteen partners in Latin America turned out to be impractical. “In 2012, we decided to provide more solar-powered mobile cinemas so we can share our experience and help each other explore new markets.” The investment in solar equipment was supported by the Dutch foundation Doen. Thus, ECOCINEMA was born. “Meanwhile, we have four solar-powered cinemas in Uruguay, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil.” More solar-powered cinemas are coming to Ecuador as well as Spain and Tunesia by the end of 2014.
Everywhere, the goal is the same. „We are trying to raise the awareness of children and young people by teaching them the importance of sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and the search for new sources of renewable energy. The plan is to tour Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa with the solar unit to conduct educational workshops and host free screenings.“
The original version of this article was published in the 2014 edition of Green Film Shooting.