Drive-in film festival at former bus depot is reel ticket for cinema fans

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THE former Bartons bus depot in Chilwell has been transformed into a drive-in cinema for a film festival.

NOT The Cannes Film Festival starts tonight and runs until Sunday, with screenings of four classic car-based movies: Senna, Bullitt, Vanishing Point and American Graffiti.

There is room for cinema fans in over 100 cars to pull in and watch each of the films on a 10m-wide screen.

"We really liked the idea of an outside American-style cinema," says spokesman Steve Wallace.

"We have a bar with soft drinks and alcohol, plus waitresses who will go out to the cars with popcorn, ice-cream, chips and burgers.

"We chose the car theme for the festival because one of our sponsors is Sandicliffe. Everyone will be sitting in a car watching the films and there are some classic car-based films to choose from."

Each film will be screened at 7.30pm, starting with Senna tonight, then Bullitt (tomorrow), Vanishing Point (Saturday) and American Graffiti (Sunday).

"We are letting people come in without cars, so if they want to bring a seat to watch the film they can. There will be speakers at the side of the screen. For those in the cars, we're broadcasting the sound on a frequency that can be picked up on the car radio."

It's the latest in a series of events at Bartons, which used to house the company's fleet of buses that operated for more than 100 years.

The bus business was sold to Trentbarton in 1989 but Bartons PLC continues, led by Simon Barton, great-grandson of founder Thomas Henry Barton.

"My great-grandfather was equivalent to a Brunel in motor passenger transport," he says.

"He was a very famous man in his time. And the company has been a major player in the leisure business since the 1920s, so the idea that an event such as this carries his name is entirely fitting."

Adds Steve: "Simon Barton wanted it to play a part in the community and become a cultural centre. We have put on all sorts of events including comedy, music and fashion."

Each has been named after the most famous event in each field, such as NOT The Glastonbury Festival and NOT The Edinburgh Fringe. It started out as a joke among ourselves but then we realised it was fitting because we have quite a unique space here."

He adds: "We have had one or two disappointments along the way, such as NOT the Glastonbury Festival. It clashed with what became known as Super Saturday at the Olympics, where Britain won all those gold medals. And it was scorching hot weather, so people wanted to be outside.

"But the quality of everything we've put on has been great."

Coming up at Bartons is the Carnival of Monsters, which attracted 4,000 people last year, and music event Oxjam.

"We will be doing another season next year, based on the events that have worked and not worked."

Tickets for NOT the Cannes Film Festival are £17.50 to £22.50 per car, or £6 to £8 per person without a car.