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It may be the summer, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer in a stuffy multiplex to sate your movie-craving.

Sitting indoors when the rest of the world is outside enjoying the sun (hopefully) is a fate skillfully avoided by London’s dazzling array of outdoor cinema screenings in parks, atop the roofs of pubs and bars, and even in the grounds of stately homes.

Some of London’s most glamorous locations become movie havens, as Film4’s Somerset House Summer Screen shows.

Taking up residence in the majestic courtyard of this 18th-century architectural wonder on the banks on the Thames, this season takes in a range of films, both new and old.

“Watching films outdoors in the beautiful courtyard of Somerset House gives people a chance to relax and watch a film informally with friends but still in an audience environment,” Summer Screen programmer David Cox says.

“Being outside and sitting on the ground instantly puts you in a different mood – your senses are more alive and the surroundings are ever changing. It makes watching a film more of a live experience.”

There are all manner of established classics and cult films on the roster this year, from rom-coms and action to comedy, drama, thriller, sci-fi and more. It all kicks off with the UK premiere of On The Road, starring Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and a post-Twilight Kristen Stewart, on August 16.

“Films get chosen through a combination of finding out which ones people feel passionately about – rather than just the ones that made the most money – imagining how a movie might look, sound and feel in this environment, and ultimately measuring the enthusiasm for each story within the team,” Cox says.

“This year, The Birds, Apocalypse Now, Drive and Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom instantly fulfilled our criteria. If we don’t really care about a movie, how will anyone else?”

Joining Indy and co will be the likes of French agent provocateur Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void; Paul Thomas Anderson’s Dirk Diggler tale, Boogie Nights; and Molly Ringwald Eighties classic Pretty In Pink – all sure-fire crowdpleasers of vastly different styles.

The season is also proud to boast a selection of brand new premieres, which won’t be in multiplexes until later in the year, such as Ben Stiller’s sci-fi alien invasion comedy The Watch, and the Prohibition-set Lawless, starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, and directed by Aussie John Hillcoat; “It’s important to keep the season feeling fresh,” Cox says.

“These films feature popular stars and promise plenty of surprises. It will be a lot of fun discovering them with everyone else.”

As well as the films in the main courtyard, there will also be a Behind The Screen series, featuring an eclectic collection of speakers, panels and screenings.

“This year we’ll have Adam Smith talking about his Chemical Brothers concert film, Don’t Think, artists,” Cox says.

“And musicians talking about [Wim Wenders’ cult classic] Paris, Texas, plus a programme of shorts, courtesy of BAFTA and Film4.” Top films and fresh air: a win-win for all involved.

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House
Aug 16-27. £14.50+  Strand, WC2R 1LA
Tube | Temple | somersethouse.org.uk/film


Watch cult classics and new release films at London's top outdoor, root-top and pop-up cinemas

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