A plan to launch a free drive-in movie experience at a supermarket carpark in Mayaro has been shut down as it breaches not only the public health regulations in place to prevent the spread of covid19 but also runs afoul of the Cinematograph Act.
The man behind the concept, Riad Rampat, said he had planned the event to come off on Saturday as some of some covid19 restrictions had been lifted on May 21.
Rampat said he thought the idea of a movie night at the carpark of the family-owned business, S&S Persad supermarket, could be a form of entertainment for the people in the area who have been starved for outdoor entertainment since the lockdown went into force at the end of March.
However, even though the audio was being streamed to the audio systems of vehicles, and food and beverages could be delivered to the occupants, the event was likely to contravene the restrictions on gatherings of over five people, which remain in effect at least until June 8.
The movie was scheduled to air on Saturday from 6.30 pm to 8 pm, but the comments and concerns on Facebook and other social media sites have forced the organisers to reconsider their generous deed.
He said, “Since everyone was in quarantine for so long we decided to show a movie, so people could have some kind of entertainment.
“And we were keeping in guidelines with the covid19 restrictions and also alerted the police, who offered their assistance with regular patrols.”
Rampat said they designed the event to ensure that there would have been limited to no contact between people, except for those in their respective vehicles.
He said, “When we posted it we did not expect so many people interested. We did not expect it to be such an uproar.”
But as the post went viral some people welcomed the idea while others opposed it.
Rampat maintained that although they were catering for about 300 vehicles, the event could have been properly managed.
“We were being responsible. People did not have to come out to interact with anyone, they just needed to sit in their cars and look at the movie."
Rampat added that if all goes well they will reconsider their idea as they were approached by several other businesses who wanted to invest in their drive-in.
This and other such ventures prompted the Board of Film Censors to issue a release which warned of the breaches of section 12 of the Cinematograph Act.
It said, “All persons or entities wishing to exhibit motion pictures to the public must first obtain a rating from the TT Board of Film Censors.”
Its chairman Ingrid Jahra said it was extremely important to screen the content that would be aired, especially in open spaces where all age groups would have access.
She said, “The warning was not specifically targeted at S&S Persad supermarket but was meant to desist people from breaking the law.
“There have been several others with the same intention, but there must be the appropriate approvals first.”
The Board of Censors notice reiterated that section 3 of the xct mandated that a licence was required for the exhibition of cinematographic material to the public.
Section 3 of the Cinematograph Act, Act 18 of 1936, states:
“An exhibition of pictures or other optical effects by means of a cinematograph or other similar apparatus, for the purposes of which cinematograph films are used, shall not be given unless the Regulations made under this Act for the control of the exhibitions and for securing safety are complied with, or elsewhere than in a theatre licensed for the purpose under this Act; and no person shall carry on the business of exhibiting films to the public on payment unless he holds a licence.”
Section 12 says:
“ (1)It shall not be lawful to exhibit any cinematograph film unless the film has been submitted to and approved by the Board in the manner hereinafter provided.
(2) It shall not be lawful to exhibit, display, publish or distribute any film-poster, unless the poster has either been submitted to and approved by the Board in the manner hereinafter provided or been submitted to and approved by the Chairman of the Board.”
The matter was raised at the PM’s media briefing on Saturday, where Dr Rowley said casinos, cinemas and bars were to submit proposals for workplace safety, so that they can be considered for reopening in the next phase on June 8. He maintained that the rule against gatherings of no more than five people is still in effect.