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Byron Shire
June 14, 2021

Interview with Peter Castaldi

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The Quad in Lismore presents its first outdoor cinema event – programmed by nationally regarded film critic and programmer, Peter Castaldi. Peter told The Echo about the vision.

Tell me about the vision for the Quad outdoor cinema?

I always love doing unusual things in unexpected places, and I’ve always had a great love of outdoor cinema. The Quad is a unique and beautiful venue, almost naturally a bit steampunk. It’s the perfect place to pop up a screen, devise a programme that’s as broad and high quality as possible, and get people in to enjoy my slightly bent taste in all sorts of cinema. The vision is therefore to be asked to do just this over and over again and have people come and enjoy! 

Why is it better watching movies outside?

The first principle of programming outdoors is to understand that where you are is just as important as what you are watching; it’s a 50/50 split. So you need to programme cinema that your audience is comfortable with, so that they then take the risk of sitting under the stars, on a possibly chilly night, enjoying open fires, mulled wine – if they’re old enough – and re-visiting a film they know and love, or have heard of and just want to see, in a unique setting.

Is it the romance of the drive-in?

Yes! In part. But a little more carbon neutral, and a little more open to the elements. And we’ve replaced those old clip-on speakers with silent disco headsets, so the sound is going to be a whole lot better, in fact, so good that the experience becomes quite immersive. And if you come along on Friday night for the music film programme then you can absolutely go completely Spinal Tap and turn your volume to 11, and get up and dance! You could never do that in a cinema… or a drive-in for that matter!

You chose One Perfect Day and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet – tell me why you love those films?

They were both slaughtered by critics unfairly and for all the wrong reasons. They have a great respect for both story and score. And they are both unique expressions from idiosyncratic filmmakers that succeed in being highly entertaining. Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet for me is, and will always be, a masterpiece! And One Perfect Day, well it was sorely missed, when first released.

Tell me about the programming – how did you choose what was going to run? How do you keep everyone happy?

That’s the subjective bit. I tap into my ‘sense memory’! What made me feel? What took me away? What touched my heart, before it clicked the neurons in my intellect into firing? We’re all part of the same community. I’m not that different to anyone who might come and see what I chose; maybe I’ve seen a few thousand more films than most, but what rings true for me rings true for most. Or that’s my experience…

How’s it going to work with sound etc?

Silent Disco headsets for perfect, fully immersive, crisp, surround stereophonic in-your-head sound. Bring a low-backed chair, a rug and your own dinner, or buy some there. 

What should we look forward to?

All of it! But my personal pick is Cory McAbee’s The American Astronaut I can absolutely guarantee that you will never have seen, or heard, anything like it. You might shrug your shoulders in disbelief, but you won’t be able to wipe the smile from your face.

The Quad Outdoor Cinema, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Lismore from 6pm.
Prices: Adult $15, Conc $10. Double bill and group discounts available.
Tickets and program: www.lismorequad.org.au

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