Discover the best of NYC’s alternative movie hideouts.
New York’s film scene is expansive and cinema culture is deeply ingrained in the city’s DNA. NYC is home to many off-the-radar, independent movie theaters that you just can’t find in other cities. If you’re looking for a screening of the latest underground, award-winning, indie flick or a black-and-white classic, check out some these seriously cool small-time cinemas.
Anthology Film Archives
As the birthplace of NYC experimental cinema, Anthology Film Archives is the nation’s first film museum “exclusively devoted to the film as an art.” Along with screening movies, the center boasts an impressive reference library containing the world’s largest collection of books, periodicals, stills, and other paper materials related to avant-garde film.
Feeling elegant? Take a trip to the Paris Theatre, which, staying true to its name, does indeed have a penchant for playing French films. This single-screen theater traces its origins back to 1948, opening with German-American actress Marlene Dietrich cutting the inaugural ribbon in the presence of the U.S. Ambassador to France.
Located near Grand Army Plaza on West 58th Street just outside of Central Park, this classic gem often sees celebrities pass through its doors for the many premieres it hosts.
Film Society of Lincoln Center
As the host of one of the country’s most prestigious film festivals, the New York Film Festival, Film Society offers a mixed selection of films that spans across mainstream and independent audiences for those who can’t decide between the arthouse and the megaplex. Their $25 Dinner-and-a-Movie deal pairing an independent film and wine from the Lincoln Center restaurant is not to be missed.
Angelika Film Center
Based in Soho since 1989, New York’s Angelika Film Center is the flagship cinema of the independent movie theatre chain of the same name. Viewers tout its robust and consistently strong lineup of indie films, with a good café worth visiting even without a movie ticket. In true New York fashion, your screening’s audio might be accentuated by the rumbling of the subway nearby, as New York Magazine explains. If that’s not indie, what is?
As New York City’s first four-screen movie theater, the aptly-named Quad Cinema features multiple auditoriums for smaller and cozier viewing. Elliot Kanbar founded the theater back in 1972, keeping it in the family business until just last year, according to the New York Times. Regularly frequented by Andy Warhol back in the day, Quad Films remains a cinema treasure that is a worth a visit.
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
This recently restored indie theatre is set in an old Yiddish vaudeville theater dating back to 1898. Its historic origins belies its state-of-the-art design: with attractions such as a Japanese rock garden and a third story glass annex with spectacular city views, Landmark Cinema offers an environment that is innovative, trendy and unforgettable. Fun midnight screenings are a crowd favorite for this one-of-a-kind theatre, as Gothamist recommends.
Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI)
The former home of Paramount Pictures, MoMI has one of the oldest and largest collections of old hardware for films, video games, and television, representing one of the greatest troves of media history in New York. Occasionally, film screenings are accompanied by talks with leading directors. Calling all movie buffs — this theatre is for you.
(Image credits: Jeff Stvan/flickr)