Around the world with vans with solar panels

Around the world with vans with solar panels

Sunday, April 12nd 2015

Yesterday the Swiss animator Nils Hedinger won the Green Award for his short Timber. The short film will be shown around the world via the Solar World Cinema network. How does that work exactly?

Timber was one of the short films from Go Green, the program that Go Short presented in collaboration with Solar Cinema. Last Thursday evening you might have seen Solar Cinema on Plein 1944: a van with solar panels that provides a big movie screen next to it with power. “We can screen fims for about 10 hours, after which it takes a day or one and a half day to fully recharge”, explains initiator Maureen Prins.

According to Prins a huge advantage of the Solar Cinema is it’s independence: the cinema is set up in no time and is totally self-sufficient. It can be placed in all sorts of outdoor settings. You could have come across the van at Dutch festivals, neighboorhood parties, sustainability events or outdoor screenings from art houses. “I even did a screening on the water, which became sort of a drive-in show with boats.”

Preferably Prins screens short films. Because there are a lot of good short films, but also because it works well outdoors. “There’s a lot of things going on at events and festivals, which can make it difficult to focus on a story for a longer period of time. With short films you can come and go as you wish.”

Remote areas
Prins got the idea when she saw a similar project from friends in England. “Around that time I did community projects like youth filmprojects. Having a solar van seemed ideal to travel around and do projects on different locations.” So when she started a sustainable mobile cinema in 2006 she did it out of love for film, not necessarily to start a sustainability project. “I’m not a preacher of durability. But I do like that I can show an application that is not only sustainable but also very useful and effective.” In the meantime durability did become a focus point for the films that Solar Cinema shows. Eventually Prins hopes she can become a distributer for green films as well.

An international network is established already. Since four years Solar Cinema runs projects in, among others, several South-American countries, Indonesia, Portugal and Ghana. “In many of those countries the main goal is to bring culture to the people. The vans can reach remote areas where people normally see hardly any films.” At this point many of the international projects run smoothly and the network keeps expanding. It is through this network that awardwinner Timber will be shown around the world.

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