Classic Movies in a Classic Cemetery

By Talia Alkalay

Even though I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I often feel like a stranger in my own city. As funny as this it might sound, I sometimes feel like tourists know more about Los Angeles than me, a native! This city is so large and has so many different sections that it seems like an impossible city to intimately know, especially for someone like me who tends to stick to her own backyard.  So when my sister suggested that we go to one of Cinespia’s cemetery screenings, I decided to give it a go!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Cinespia is an organization that hosts screenings of classic films at the famous Hollywood Forever cemetery. They project old (and some newer) classic movies onto a large wall that is surrounded by a huge grassy lawn for people to lay out and watch the films. Most people bring picnic-style food and drinks to enjoy while watching the movie. My sister and I came prepared with an endless array of snacks and drinks so that we could maximize our experience.  We arrived at the cemetery about an hour and a half before the movie began but, understanding the popularity of this summer event, we weren’t surprised to see that a long line had formed and was already spilling out onto Santa Monica Blvd. It was all worth it though once we got to the front and were allowed onto the grounds of Hollywood Forever. The area of the cemetery in which the films are projected is somewhat toward the back of the grounds; you actually have to walk through a portion of the cemetery in order to get to the final destination. Along the walk, I was drawn in and fascinated by all the over-the-top marble tombstones and mausoleums; some had effigies (or drawn likenesses) etched into the stone so that you could see what the deceased looked like when they were alive.
Once we got to the seating area, we were not surprised to see that the lawn was extremely full of excited movie patrons and that there was very little space left for us to set up. Luckily, we found a perfect area that had a perfect view of the screen. While we laid out our blankets and our picnic items, we listened to the resident live DJ spin indie pop music over the booming speakers. He played until the movie began at 9pm.
The movie playing on this particular night was “Rear Window”, a 1954 thriller starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, and directed by the famous Alfred Hitchcock. I had never seen this movie before, or any Alfred Hitchcock movie for that matter, so I didn’t know what to anticipate. I was nervous that the movie would be scary (I don’t do well with scary movies), but it was more of a suspense than a horror film. I was very glad we chose to experience Cinespia on an Alfred Hitchcock night because, not only did I enjoy the film, I felt exposed to a whole new genre, one that I intend to seek out more often!
Despite the chill in the air,  we lingered a bit after the movie ended, listening to the DJ’s music and enjoying the summer night sky. When the cold really sunk in, we finally packed up our things and left. Though I haven’t had a chance to return to Cinespia, I would definitely like to go again. I would highly recommend this weekly summer event for anyone who has yet experienced the thrill of cemetery screenings for themselves.
Talia is a sophomore majoring in business administration. She hopes to break into the business and marketing world once she graduates. Apart from this, Talia loves travelling and learning about new cultures. She speaks three languages (English, Hebrew, and Spanish) and hopes to learn a few more. She also loves to dance and has been doing so since she was 8.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons