Open-air screening for film festival

Two open-air digital screenings at Priory Park will launch this year’s 20th Chichester International Film Festival.

The festival proper runs from August 18 to September 4, but to get everyone in the mood, the Festival heads off into the open air for showings of Carmen and West Side Story on August 12 and August 13 respectively.

For festival artistic director Roger Gibson, it’s about bringing the festival out into the community – and builds on previous open-air screenings.

“We have moved from the Cathedral to Priory Park this year so that we can charge. It was a huge hole (in our budget). It was costing us more than £2,000 with hiring the equipment and so on. But this being the 20th anniversary of the festival, we have got approval for Priory Park and we have got two screenings.”

Carmen comes in the Covent Garden production (2007) delivered by The Royal Opera.

Francesca Zambello’s vibrant directions with Tanya McCallin’s richly-coloured designs create the sun-drenched and sultry world of 19th-century Spain.

Anna Caterina Antonacci plays the fickle temptress of the title with German tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Don José, the soldier she forces to murderous jealousy over her affair with the bullfighter Escamillo; 155 mins plus interval, Friday, August 12. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the film festival is also offering an open-air screening of MGM’s all-new restoration of 10-times Oscar-winning West Side Story.

Music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim set the tragedy of Romeo And Juliet in the slums of 1950s New York.

The Jets, a gang on the West Side, is getting ready to fight the rival Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. Riff, the leader of the Jets, tries to enlist the help of the co-founder of the gang, Tony.

Starring Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Beymer and George Chakiris; 151 mins, Saturday, August 13.

Tickets are available in advance at £7 (£4 children) from the Chichester Cinema at New Park box office (01243 786650), or at £10 (£7) at the Priory Park Gate on the evening. The films will be preceded by music from 7.30 provided by the Chi Jazz Band.

The films will start at dusk, approximately 8.30/8.45.