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Starved for culture, Czechs hold drive-in festival


Agence France-Presse

Prague, Czech Republic  /  Mon, May 11, 2020  /  02:05 pm
Starved for culture, Czechs hold drive-in festival

Illustration of a drive-in cinema. (Shutterstock/Vinicius Bacarin)

A Prague festival producer said Sunday the coronavirus pandemic has forced him to swap out real stages for a safer drive-in cultural festival that has nonetheless been cheered by honking horns and flashing lights.

Concert halls, cinemas and theaters in the EU member of 10.7 million people have been closed since mid-March because safe social distancing could not be ensured.

"The Art Parking festival has been running for two weeks now, and we have held about 25 or 30 film screenings, theater performances and concerts," festival producer Jakub Vedral told AFP.

After driving in, audience members are handed a receiver and headset to plug into their car stereo system, or they can listen out of the windows.

Staff wearing face masks also hand out menus and sell food and drinks throughout the performances, which are held at the Prague city market and a derelict railway station.

Vedral hailed the festival as an opportunity to provide jobs to people who would otherwise stay home.

But he added that he would be happy to quit once the government reopens concert halls, cinemas and theaters -- among other easing steps -- on Monday.

Read also: Drive-in cinema summer tour set in US

"We may continue for two weeks. But this really is an emergency affair and we'll be happy to get back to doing proper culture without cars," said Vedral.

On Saturday, almost 60 cars found their way to a concert by the stalwart Czech rock band Znouzectnost, which translates to "making the best of a bad job".

"We've never done anything so exotic, playing for cars. It's an original experience," Caine, the trio's drummer, told AFP.

The audience honked their horns and flashed their lights, cheered and danced out of car windows -- with many struggling to observe the safe distance rule.

Martin Novohradsky, a teenager who traveled about 80 kilometers to see the performance, relished the experience.

"It's great. At least we're not stuck at home for a change and we get to listen to some live music," he told AFP.

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