Drive-By Cinema Launches in San Diego

The State Theatre on El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego no longer packs in movie patrons. But late this afternoon, there will be a brief revival in front of the building thanks to an intriguing new cinema-on-wheels initiative.

Drive-By Cinema, a “very irregular project” from the Pacific Arts Movement with help from the James Irvine Foundation, officially gets going at 5 p.m. Later stagings will also typically involve locations where huge movie palaces once operated:

Drive-By Cinema (DBC) was inspired by the late George Lin, former San Diego Asian Film Festival associate director, who once proposed buying old mail trucks to drive around the city to project films. In the same spirit, Pac-Arts has refurbished an old truck to cruise around high foot-traffic areas and blast films wherever they can.

There are no rules of engagement. Pedestrians and followers will decide what to do with the film. They can walk in and out, they can talk, they can eat or they can ignore it altogether. This is an experiment in audience-driven cinema exhibition, fused to the very “localness” and “publicness” of ordinary spaces.

Films to be screened are deliberately kept under wraps until show time. But for tonight’s “Love & Kung Fun, The Lunar Year Kickoff,” organizers are promising a feature attraction that connects to the State Theatre’s 1980s days as an Asian cinema house.