For 10 years now, growing numbers of L.A. residents have been lining up around the block to get into Hollywood Forever Cemetery every spring and summer. They aren't waiting to pay their respects, or visit a famous grave, but to see a classic movie under the moonlight - sometimes just a few feet from where the stars of the film are buried. This season is the 10-year anniversary of Cinespia, the group that organizes the cemetery screenings.
"First you see these big beautiful gates opening for you; to me it's almost like a park," says John Wyatt, Cinespia's founder, about the cemetery. For 10 years now Cinespia, in cooperation with the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, have opened those beautiful gates to the public in greater and greater numbers each year. At times, there has been as many as 4,000 attendees in a single evening.
The films, almost always classics, are projected onto a large mausoleum wall not far from the final resting places for Hollywood legends like Rudolph Valentino and Peter Lorre. "I even got to show the Maltese Falcon, which had John Houston – the director – buried nearby, Peter Lorre, and the writer, too was buried there," says Wyatt. "It really is a special place in that respect, that the people that worked on the films are there in some form. If you believe in the afterlife, perhaps they're watching the film with us."
This time around, Cinespia is kicking off their tenth season with a screening of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in tribute to the film's star Elizabeth Taylor, who passed away just this March. You can find out more about this year's schedule (which includes Vertigo, The Shining and more) on Cinespia's website.