“One of New York’s most shining qualities is its diversity of small cinemas.” – New York Magazine
New Yorkers may be an unruly bunch of independent cosmopolitans, but nothing unites them more than their fierce love of “going out to the movies.” Attending a screening in any one of the city’s myriad of theaters is as much about the audience as it is about the film. New Yorkers as moviegoers are expressive and passionate, and the pleasure of sharing their company before a flickering screen is not to be missed. Though cineplexes stacked into midtown skyscrapers have a certain draw, it is the independent movie houses that are the beating heart of the New York film scene. Here are some of the most quintessentially “New York” spots:
Perhaps the most lauded art house cinema in New York, the Angelika embraces everything to love (or hate) about “old school” indie theaters. Located in SoHo off noisy, chaotic Houston Street, the theater has been around since 1989 and certainly shows it. Come here to watch top-notch, world-class films on smallish screens, in rickety seats, with the occasional rumbling subway adding to the soundtrack. And love every minute of it. The main level café serves local pastries and other treats that are far better than the typical concessions. Be sure to both buy tickets and arrive well in advance, as the Angelika tends to sell out quickly every night of the week.
Amidst a rather seedy stretch of 6th Avenue, the bright, new IFC marquee gleams cheerfully. Short for Independent Film Center, the IFC wields a mighty line up of avant-garde and cutting edge films, along with a good dose of cult classics (often screened at midnight). Though the theaters themselves are small, the screens are big, giving the audience an immersive experience. Meanwhile, the David Lynch organic coffee sold in the concession stand ensures a nice, non-linear buzz. And, despite the character of that afore mentioned stretch 6th avenue, turn onto any of the nearby streets and enjoy the oodles of charm that the West Village is famous for.
Hop across the East River to Williamsburg, the edgy, cool Brooklyn neighborhood with a movie theater to match. Nitehawk offers moviegoers an experience unlike any other found in New York. The street-level eatery and bar purveys terrific cocktails and cuisine that are worthy of a visit on their own. Luckily, for those inclined to catch a film, the fabulous menu is served tableside within each of their three luxe theaters. Ingenious design and terrifically discreet service allow for a brilliantly undisruptive take on “dinner and a movie.” Novelty aside, the cinema shows first-run, independent releases that are compelling whether or not you choose to partake of the menu (which is completely optional). The added bonus of a preshow—featuring the work of local filmmakers and other fun clips related to the featured screening—make showing up early as pleasurable as it is practical.
Other top spots:
Film Forum – As removed from blockbuster Hollywood as possible, this tiny venue has been fanatically independent since 1970. It’s groundbreaking status as a non-profit movie house allows it to play far more experimental, off beat films than you’ll find elsewhere. www.filmforum.org
Landmark Sunshine Cinema – With large seats and wide screens, this modernly outfitted cineplex will be your most comfortable independent cinema experience. It’s location on the boarder between the East Village and the Lower East Side lends it plenty of “street cred,” which reflects well in their excellent film roster. www.landmarktheatres.com
This was a guest post from Ava Federov.Google+