Grieving Mother Upset Community Movie Night Will Be Near Gravesite Of Son at Memory Gardens in Arlington Heights

A modern, classic movie set to play Saturday night in an open space is causing controversy because the open space is part of a cemetery. CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the plan isn’t sitting well with a woman whose son is buried there.

A grieving Buffalo Grove mother, Leyla Durmus, has expressed her disgust that Memory Gardens Cemetery at 2501 East Euclid Avenue is hosting the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on Saturday August 11, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. While the screening is not among graves, Durmus says headstones can be seen from the area where the movie will be displayed. Her son, Kaya Dikmenli, who died of a heroin overdose on Christmas Eve in 2016, is buried at Memory Gardens; and her grieving remains fresh. Kaya had been prescribed oxycontin for pain related to epilepsy, and became addicted to opioids before his heroin overdose.

The Memory Gardens Cemetery in Arlington Heights is hosting a free showing of Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” Saturday night. A flyer for the event encourages people to bring family, friends, blankets and chairs for a fun-filled evening under the stars with Indiana Jones. Memory Gardens says proceeds from beverage sales (limited quantity of Arlington Club Soda) will benefit the Arlington Heights Historical Museum.

In a statement, Memory Gardens declared its intent for hosting the movie screening is to serve as a gathering place, and to foster a sense of community among Arlington Heights residents. Memory Gardens also stated that similar events at other cemeteries throughout the Chicago area have received a very positive response.

But the cemetery cinema concept may have originated beyond Chicagoland … and where do you think?

“Cinespia captures the excitement of a drive-in movie date night of the 1950s but with a decidedly creepy twist.”

— Vanity Fair

Historically, the practice of displaying movies at cemeteries may have gone mainstream in 2002 in La La Land when Los Angeles native John Wyatt approached the owners of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery about screening the classic film, Alfred Hitchcock‘s Strangers on a Train (1951). The venue evolved into a popular movie screenings site managed by Cinespia, an organization that hosts on-site screenings of classic films in and around historical locations in Los Angeles, California.

Hollywood Forever screenings take place on the Fairbanks Lawn, named for the association with the adjacent crypt housing both Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Jr. Films are digitally projected against the west wall of the Cathedral Mausoleum, which houses the crypt of Rudolph Valentino among many others. In Los Angeles, the same night as the scheduled Arlington Heights event, the 8th Annual Slumber Party is scheduled at Fairbanks Lawn, screening THE CRAFT with Fairuza Balk, Robin Tunney and Neve Campbell at 9:00 p.m.; PRACTICAL MAGIC with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman at midnight; and THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK with Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Jack Nicholson at 2:00 a.m.

“LA needed a place where people could get together and watch their favorite films, and the current owners were lovingly restoring the cemetery to its former glory. I moved my film club to the cemetery and Cinespia was born.”

— John Wyatt (Film Archivist, Cinespia Founder)

Up to 3,500 enthusiastic moviegoers at a single screening regularly bring blankets, pillows, picnic dinners, alcoholic beverages and candles. They’re not allowed to bring chairs that are too tall. The Fairbanks Lawn is fully staffed, and LA DJs play music before and after the screenings over a portable sound system.

Friday August 10, 2018, Cinespia and Fairbanks Lawn hosted the “Los Angeles LGBT Center Out Under the Stars” event with the screening of Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez and Edward James Olmos.

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery has also hosted outdoor concerts with artists including Bon Iver, Belle & Sebastian, Hope Sandoval, the Swell Season, Broken Social Scene, and Beach House.

Not all agree about this behavior at a cemetery …

Cemetery Etiquette
Cemetery visitors should:

Be sympathetic.
Do not play loud music in cars, with the windows down, for everyone to hear.

Keep children in ‘check.’
No running, yelling, or rolling around on the ground. This is not a place for childhood games. Don’t let them play on any of the monuments. While it is good to get children used to paying respects at a cemetery, they often don’t fully understand the meaning of everything in the cemetery.

Do their best to not walk over the graves.
Common sense leads you to know the basic shape of a grave; walk in between the headstones, and don’t stand on top of a burial place.

Follow cemetery rules.
Most have a sign near the entrance stating hours, rules about decorations, etc. Obey these rules. Rules about decorations serve to make sure the cemetery doesn’t collect too much debris that the caretakers need to clean up. Flowers and other things can blow in the wind. It would be especially nice if any trash along the way was picked up, regardless of who left it.

Try not to remain in the cemetery after dark.
Most cemeteries are open from dawn to dusk.

Don’t litter.
This creates extra work for the caretakers, and shows disrespect to the other families who come to mourn their loved ones. “Pack your trash” is a good rule of thumb: take your refuse with you when you go, or put it in trash receptacles.

Leash your pets.
When you bring your pets, be sure to clean up after them.

Follow the roadways and don’t drive on the grass.
Drive slowly and obey any traffic signs posted in the cemetery. Be careful to avoid any people since they might be upset and not paying complete attention to where they are going.

Be respectful.
Keep the volume of voices down, and don’t use offensive language.

Don’t be overly friendly when talking to strangers.
Other visitors may want to be alone.

Don’t touch any monuments or gravestones.
They are very meaningful to the families who placed them there. Some older memorials might be in disrepair and might fall apart under the slightest touch.

Don’t take photos of other people or other funerals.
This is a very private time for people. It’s best to steer clear of any funerals occurring, and don’t get in the way of funeral processions.

— Anthony Funeral & Cremation Chapels, Brighton, NY



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Los Angeles LGBT Center: OUT Under the Stars: Selena |

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Los Angeles Times: Hollywood Forever comes alive with music

PARADE Cinespia: How Watching Movies in a Cemetery Became a Los Angeles Must