Imagine the sun setting, light flickering off apartment buildings, spotlighting the murals surrounding the glowing green park. You hear laughter, side conversations, and light, dreamy music. You are holding a fruit popsicle and just finished eating shrimp n’ grits from the nearby food trucks. Your friends are playing lawn games to your left, children are playing tag to your right, and in front of you is a movie screen. You are about to go on a magic carpet ride around the world, except the carpet is a picnic blanket, and the magic is the power of film. You are at NoMa’s CiNoMatic outdoor movie series.
After a year of not being able to travel globally, CiNoMatic’s series titled “Reignite Your Wanderlust!” hopes to make up for the lost time. The films are a passport to exotic locations, like India, Iceland, Greece, Singapore, China, Hawaii, Mexico, Jamaica and Brazil. There are movies for thrill-seekers, families, romantics, comedy lovers and people who want to escape the world of Covid-19 for a bit.
It’s not just traveling that has been disrupted; NoMa BID has also not held in-person events for over a year due to pandemic concerns. The movie series marks their in-person return with a new name and a new location.
“I’m excited to welcome people back to NoMa through this series,” NoMa BID President and CEO Maura Brophy says.
The series began in 2008 as “NoMa Summer Screen” with a James Bond theme. It was a quick success and was once ranked as the top outdoor movie theater in the country by Travel and Leisure Magazine. The event originally took place in private lots in NoMa, but this is no longer an option after years of construction.
Needing to find a permanent home, the series has officially moved to the new Alethia Tanner Park. The park is named after a Maryland slave who purchased her freedom in 1810. It was planned by the NoMa Park Foundation and opened in 2020.
Next to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Tanner Park features a large lawn, playground, dog park and gardens. Brophy says it was designed to host events with its state-of-the-art screen and a sophisticated sound system.
As Brophy notes, “It’s the best place in the city to watch an outdoor movie because it was built and designed specifically for things like this.”
The official launch of the series was scheduled for August 25, but the first two weeks were delayed due to weather. Instead of in-person movies, BID hosted online movie trivia and rescheduled the two movies to rain dates in November.
“We are very hopeful that the weather will cooperate for the rest of the series,” Brophy says. “And we’ll be able to complete the outdoor movie series as we had intended.”
The first in-person movie is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” on September 15. “Walter Mitty” is about a man who works at a fictional Life magazine, dreams of adventure, and finds himself longboarding in Iceland.
Other movies, like “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” follows Stella to Jamaica where she finds an attractive young suitor who changes her perspective. In the comedy-drama “The Farewell,” a Chinese American family decides not to tell their grandmother she is dying.
There will also be three marriage flicks for those who need wedding inspiration. These include “Crazy Rich Asians,” featuring a glamorous Singapore party; “Mamma Mia,” with a Greek destination wedding; and “Monsoon Wedding,” with chaotic nuptial preparations in India.
For the Disney fans, there is “Moana” set in Hawaii and “Coco” in Mexico. The two movies follow the adventures of young protagonists learning about their ancestors and culture.
Brophy told us her top pick, saying, “I’m looking forward to being at the screening for Moana. It’s a fun movie.”
Besides an exciting movie lineup, the event will have swag bags for the first 50 people, food vendors and lawn games. These additions will add to the fun experience and allow attendees to try local cuisine while waiting for the movie to begin.
The two food truck vendors are local women-owned shops Puddin’ and Jarabe Gourmet Pops. Puddin’ specializes in Southern comfort food and is known for its brown butter bourbon bread pudding. Jarabe sells Mexican and Latino-inspired popsicles with flavors like watermelon slice and cucumber lime.
A free movie series is not all that NoMa BID has planned for this fall. Currently, there is DC Walls, an international mural festival. Later in the year, there will be Pumpkin Palooza and holiday events.
CiNoMatic hopes to take NoMa on a journey when it returns in-person. At Tanner Park, movie-goers will witness the sun setting, brilliant new murals, green grass, picnic blankets, food trucks and community — all while watching films that transport them all over the world.
Now through November 10, the CiNoMAtic outdoor movie series will show a different film every Wednesday evening for free. Check their website for the movie schedule and exact times of each film.
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content and to get a monthly print edition delivered to your door. Support local journalism and start your membership today.