Solar-powered cinema

With Solar Cinema, Dutch filmmaker Maureen Prins has launched an international project that combines the best of film culture and sustainability. She is bringing her solar powered screening system to areas in Europe where movie theaters do not exist anymore or where independent films cannot be seen.

„My first tour around Europe took me ten weeks“, says Maureen Prins, founder of  „I visited Roumania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland, and Italy.“ She treats sustainability as an issue that is not limited to solar panels. Her repertoire includes „Go greener“, short films about climate change.

Technically, the solar cinema unit consists of a van with three or four solar panels attached to the roof, a converter/inverter that produces a 24-to-220 volt output, as well as batteries to store the energy. With six batteries (which last about 16 hours), Prins can run five shows per week. „The batteries charge during the day“, explains the solar cinema expert. „The efficiency drops only if it is really hot.“ Her cinema equipment includes: a HD projector (5500 ANSI Lumens ) that displays blu-ray, DVD and digital files; a stereo sound system with two 400-watts speakers; and a screen. In addition to an inflatable screen, she really wants a hybrid van.

Solar Cinema started in 2006 when the young filmmaker was touring the Netherlands in her van. „I not only did outdoor screenings for festivals but also screenings in neighborhoods outside the city.

She teamed up with some enthusiastic Dutch female colleagues and founded the association Solar World Cinema. At the CICAE training program that brings together arthouse exhibitors from all over the world, Prins developed, along with a fellow South American team member, a concept for a solar powered cinema network in Latin America. „We became a member of the mobile cinema network Red de Cines Itinerantes de América Latina“, says Prins. „The idea was to set up a solar-powered cinema because independent filmmakers are having trouble distributing films.“