The focus of this year’s Gothenburg Film Festival is, appropriately in this Covid-stricken world, ‘Social Distances’. Instead of the being screened to the usual crowds of moviegoers at glittering parties the films will be shown mainly online or at certain one-person cinemas.
However, one particular movie buff will have the chance to watch all 60 of the festival’s premieres in splendid isolation. Inside a lighthouse on a lonely rocky island off Sweden’s west coast.
When the Pater Noster lighthouse was constructed in 1868 it was designed to guard the passage into Gothenburg Harbour. It is unlikely that the men who designed and built it thought it would one day serve as the world’s most isolated cinema. Yet it is here that Jonas Holmberg, the Festival’s artistic designer, plans to have one extremely self-contained person spend an entire week alone, watching the movies, from 30 January to 6 February.
In a contest called ‘The Isolated Cinema’ he is looking for a person who must be a true film fan, can enjoy or tolerate solitude very well and be willing to document his or her experiences in a video diary.
Jonas says, “They are totally isolated. They’re not allowed to bring anyone with them of course but also no phone and not even a book. It will only be the person, the sea and the waves, and the sky — and the 60 different premieres that we are screening at the festival.”
The purpose of this experiment, he says, is to see how people interact with movies when they have no other human contact. He points out that the Covid-19 virus has totally changed our cinema habits. Movies used to be very much a social occasion – a group of friends or family going together to the cinema. Now it is more of a solitary experience, watched at home online or on a TV screen.
The person selected will live in what used to be the lighthouse keeper’s cottage but is now a tiny and exclusive hotel; however, there will be no staff. The movies themselves will be screened in a purpose-built cinema for one, located inside the lighthouse.
“They will have a very comfortable time there because they will have a soft bed, a warm room and very nice food,” says Jonas.
But won’t they miss out on an essential part of the movie experience?
Well no. Jonas says, “There will also be some popcorn.”
Presumably the person chosen will also have to be of a non-nervous disposition in the case of truly scary horror movies, stories of attacks by hideous sea monsters or tales of awful fates befalling people stranded in desolate locations.
Still, it might be worth it for the free popcorn.
Feature image via Lonely Planet