The defining narrative about cinemas in this country is that they’re overpriced chain monstrosities beholden to showing the latest Hollywood blockbuster and nothing else. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story.
While they may be a little harder to find, there are incredible indie cinemas all across the country. Many are part of larger arts centres, some are beloved local institutions saved from closure by campaigns. A few are even owned and operated by the civic authorities. All though, are unique places to enjoy a wide variety of films.
Below I’ve named 51 of my favourites. I’ve tried to encompass the huge range of independent cinemas and how they operate. I’ve excluded Picturehouse Cinemas, as they are now owned by Cineworld. I’ve also discounted the many excellent cinema societies in the country – these are brilliant though, and please do support your local film club, wherever they set up shop (if all goes to plan, we’re coming to them in another article). And, of course, I will have missed a few, so please make your own suggestions and the case for them below.
For now though, here are 51 cinemas well, well worth your support.
Friendly staff, a fun cocktail bar, and an eclectic mix of programming means this East London stalwart remains high on the list of quality indie cinemas in the capitial. Some of its screens may once have been glorified TV screens, but in recent years it has upgraded to match (and exceed) the most high-end of multiplexes. Fiercely independent, it celebrated it’s very own GenFest a few weeks ago, which included a remix of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Ghostbusters, a poetry slam, and live art in the gallery. Oh, and you can also get married there!
The Rex, Berkhamsted
One of the true joys of independent cinemas is the descriptions you read about them. Case in point is The Rex, ‘It has been called luxurious. It is better. It is civilised’. Absolutely amazing stuff. A gorgeous art deco building that plays a full and very varied programme of film from around the world on its single screen, the best thing about The Rex is the fact that people dress up in their best and you get to sit round cabaret style tables (in swivel chairs) in the stalls. It’s cinema as an intimate club night, and driven by pure love of what a night out at the pictures should represent.
The Cornerhouse, Manchester
A former furniture shop, The Cornerhouse is now a charitable cross-media powerhouse. With patrons including Helen Mirren, Danny Boyle, and Damien Hirst, its three screens, three galleries, café, and bookshop bar guarantee something interesting is always going on there. With a mix of the best independent cinemas, slightly more auteur focused Hollywood films, and events such as live scores of films, it’s a place designed to inspire debate about what you’ve just seen, and since 1985 has notched up some notable film history of its own – including the UK premiere of Reservoir Dogs. It’s also host to Viva! Spanish, one of the best film festivals in the UK.
The Electric, Birmingham
Is this the oldest cinema in the UK? It certainly has a good claim to it. Opened in 1909, it’s been called a variety of names over the years, including The Tatler and The Tivoli, but reverted to its original Electric name in 1993. Showing a wide variety of indie, mainstream, and world cinema, plus a few weddings, the Electric is a definite cultural hub in Birmingham, and a real cinema treasure. It also plays host to its own film post and production company Electric Flix, genuinely putting its money where its mouth with regards to quality films. Also, do check out the film The Last Projectionist, which tells the story of a really wonderful picturehouse.
The Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Even with all of Newcastle and Gateshead’s recent cultural reinvigoration, The Tyneside can still lay claim to being the artistic showpiece of the city. Conceived, designed and built by Dixon Scott, great uncle of Sir Ridley and Tony Scott, the Tyneside opened in 1937 bedecked in Eastern influenced Art Deco styling. It still retains much of its old look, and with a £7 million restoration allowing it to open better than ever in 2008 (complete with Mike Figgis-designed film learning centre). An amazing centre of civic life in the city, the Tyneside combines film lover heaven with social projects and a genuine love of the movies which is evident in touches as ‘Vote a film back’, and the fact you can sit down with a cocktail and watch a film on a big comfy leather sofa. Oh, and it also still shows newsreels – the only cinema in the UK to do so.
Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds
Not owned by Picturehouse/Cineworld, Hyde Park Picture House is a true institution going strong in the heart of Leeds. It turned 100 years old on the 7th November, so now is the perfect time to pay a visit and fall in love with beautiful cinemas all over again. Epitomising the very best of under the radar cinema from around the world, this council owned cinema has a vocal and dedicated fan-base and mixes gorgeous Edwardian touches such as gas lighting, an outside box-office, and balcony seating, with bang up to date Dolby Digital.
The Grosvenor, Glasgow
Located in Hillhead, one of Glasgow’s best drinking and dining areas, The Grosvenor sits on a cobbled back-alley and lights up the place with an amazing vertical neon sign proclaiming its name. Its immediately iconic, and exactly the type of cinema you want to find yourself stumbling into. Complete with a bar playing exclusively vinyl music, you can guess what sort of environment this is, and you’d be right. Playing the classic mix of recent Hollywood releases with a few more lesser known pieces and screenings of other art events, it’s a real centerpiece of a great district.
The Orion, Burgess Hill
‘Tiny, pokey, and old-fashioned. Everything I want from a local cinema. I love it!’ It’s reviews like these that show just why independent cinemas become much more than just screening rooms for communities. They become local landmarks, a source of civic pride, and somewhere to refer lovingly to when discussing your hometown. The Orion is the type of cinema you forget exists. Not owned by any chain, not obsessed with selling you a hundred things you don’t need (remember, there’s still time before the film to get a Coke Zero!), and instead concentrating on providing a film watching service for the town. Perfect.
Positioning itself as the Lake District’s premier independent cinema, this beloved place is as much jazz café and award winning restaurant as it is a cinema. But that doesn’t mean they neglect the programming. With a concentration on arthouse and world-cinema, they also eschew any films considered to have gratuitous violence. They also do a great-value £20 meal and movie deal so you can get the very best out of your cinema-going experience. It’s probably the most middle-class place on this list, but it’s definitely cinema with style.
Prince Charles, London
An iconic grindhouse alike cinema just round the corner from Leicester Square featuring cut price tickets for great films? The Prince Charles is all this and more. Name-checked by Tarantino, friends of Den of Geek (if you haven’t already, get yourself to one of our screenings here), and with a long history of natty signs on the billboard, it’s the cinema for cineastes. Regular events such as the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball, screenings of infamous bad movie The Room, movie marathons and sing-a-longs make this much more than your average picture house, and maintain the Prince Charles as one of the pinnacles of indie cinema in the UK.
The Phoenix, Falmouth
Winner of the 2010 UK independent cinema of the year, this is the crowning glory of the Merlin cinema group. A five screen beauty, its luxury cinema at its finest, with comfy sofas, waited service for food and drink, and an amazing American style diner upstairs to get a proper dinner from. Theatre screenings are a large part of the programme here, so all you drama buffs can enjoy Frankenstein without trekking to the capital. With an excellent film course at the uni, Falmouth is really establishing itself as a cinema hub in the west of England.
Opened in 1982, the Watershed was the UK’s first dedicated media centre. With its core mission statement to enable new work and make a creative ecosystem, the three screen cinema sits perfectly here, and is a highlight of any time spent in Bristol, which is already a pretty amazing place. The Watershed is the type of cinema which plays host to wide-ranging international films, and finds time to dedicate several days to a celebration of composer Philip Glass and his film scores. They also do a pretty decent podcast, so even if you’re not a Bristol resident you can still benefit.
BFI Southbank, London
While it may not be an obvious choice for an independent cinema list, the BFI Southbank definitely qualifies, and if I were ranking them, would be a contender for the top spot. Iconic building, iconic location, great bar, incredible programme of films and events, always interesting patrons (and the odd film royalty), there is simply no better place for a film aficionado to while away the day. With membership perks, cheap Tuesdays, and agenda setting film seasons (which other indie cinema has the BBC making programmes based on their seasons?), the BFI Southbank is one of my favourite places in the whole country. Oh, and you can also watch thousands of films for free in the Mediatheque, which places the amazing BFI archive at your disposal.
Idyllic setting on the Thames, eclectic arthouse cinema screenings, lovely bar, and a decent Tandoori restaurant too? Watermans in Brentford is almost the definitive hidden gem. Like many of the indie cinemas in this list, Watermans is a larger arts centre with theatre, exhibitions and community programmes all going on, including an arts and mental health service. Of particular note though is their French Impressions series, which combines both an informative talk with an intriguing screening. A 125 seat screen provides an intimate place to watch these movies, and the views across to Kew Gardens seal the deal.
The Broadway, Nottingham
A true Nottingham institution, The Broadway is a magnificent glass fronted church to cinema (a real church actually sat on the site originally). With a funky Paul Smith designed auditorium, in-house beer (Broadway Reel Ale) and a mix of arthouse, blockbuster, childrens, documentary, old, new, and everything in between, the Broadway is fully deserving of the hype and praise so regularly bestowed upon it. There are several screenings for people with autism, as well as special ‘Silver Screen’ films for senior citizens – which of course chuck in free tea and biscuits.
A real success story in Cardiff, Chapter is a multi-purpose arts centre that keeps going from strength to strength. From its 1971 beginnings as a converted school, to todays multi-million pound redesign and further expansion, Chapter is one of the most popular attractions in Cardiff. With 30 studio spaces providing a home for a diverse creative community, it can sometimes feel that the cinema gets a bit lost, But it’s still the most important part of Chapter, and one which mixes the latest releases along wioht classics and wider films seasons (the current BFI ‘Days of Fear & Wonder’ being a prime example.
Rich Mix, London
A focal point for the glorious East End Film Festival, the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green is one of the independent cinemas where film is just a small part of what goes on there. An arts centre which plays home to contemporary dance, exhibitions, music and live events among many other things, the Rich Mix truly lives up to its name. It is also pretty new, and with London full of pretty horrible old cinemas for the most part, it was a ray of sunshine when I was able to go and watch films in what seemed a spaceship from the future.
Lynton Cinema, Lynton
‘There has been cinematograph entertainment in Lynton and Lynmouth since the time of the great war’ Any indie cinema website that includes that sentence is right up there in my book. A grade-II listed former Methodist church, the Lynton cinema is a 68 seater servicing a town on 2000 people, which apparently makes Lynton the smallest town with its own dedicated cinema. You can also ride the amazing funicular railway up from Lynmouth to get there, which makes this cinema worth a visit next time you’re on the beautiful Dorset coast…
Tracing its roots back to 1909, this is one of the oldest cinemas in London, and is going stronger than ever in the 21st century. Now a Grade II listed building, the Rio looks like a beautiful art deco liner, but full of modern touches which enable it to thrive in East London where many cinemas have now gone. Part of the reason for this is its diverse range of film – where else would host a Turkish and Kurdish film festival? It also runs film education courses such as a 1960s/70s French Film course, special screening events (often calendar related), plus it has a red velvet curtained auditorium. What more could you ask for?
National Media Museum, Bradford
Proving that large-scale, world-class culture facilities do exist outside of the M25, the National Media Museum in Bradford is a national treasure. Recently spared closure during an extremely harsh round of cuts, the NMM now runs its cinemas (including the UKs first ever IMAX) in partnership with Picturehouse. Which means that maybe I shouldn’t put it on here. But I’m making an exception on a technicality (it’s a partnership) as I truly think this amazing venue in the UNESCO City of Film deserves a place here.
The Regent, Redcar
A sad signpost to a possible future of independent cinemas in the UK, The Regent in Redcar is an amazing 1928 art deco purpose built picturehouse right on the seafront now left in a state of terrible disrepair. Featured in the film Atonement (during the Dunkirk sequences), it was previously rescued in 1982 by a local family business. I remember watching Jurassic Park here as a kid, and being equally in love with the surroundings as I was with the film. Surely there should be a case for our cinema history to be preserved by bodies such as English Heritage?
The Phoenix, London
Regarded by many as one of the finest cinemas in the country, going to the Phoenix itself is often the highlight of the trip, let alone the film. Apparently the second oldest continually running cinema in the country (Brighton’s Duke of York Picturehouse is the oldest), patrons of this community trust run cinema include Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Victoria Wood and Mark Kermode. It’s a truly beautiful single screen cinema, which you can’t help but become immersed in the history of film while there. If atmosphere is what you go to a cinema for, then look no further.
Hebden Bridge Picturehouse, Hebden Bridge
Of course somewhere like Hebden Bridge would have a quirky little cinema, and one civically owned and run by the council. With hot drinks served in proper mugs for £1, and a blend of world cinema and recent releases (a few weeks after the big boys get them), this is a cosy treat for the arty minded folks of Hebden Bridge. Originally opened in 1921 with a double bill of Torn Sails and The Iron Chair, it’s managed to maintain itself as a cinema ever since. Successive councils have kept the cinema, and reinvigorated it as a true hub for the community.
The Horse Hospital, London
Located in Bloomsbury, the Horse Hospital is one of the more unique venues on this list. The only 18th century purpose built two tiered stables left open to the public in the UK, the Horse Hospital is surprisingly little changed from its initial days. Except now you go there to watch avant garde films and see incredible fashion exhibitions rather than tend your sick horse. Eschewing the usual indie cinema mixture of blockbuster and the type of independent/foreign language films your parents/significant other might like, the Horse Hospital instead puts on film seasons about drag artists, and lets film artists showcase their work. For genre bending cinema you won’t see anywhere else, the Horse Hospital is second to none.
Named after a 6th century Celtic band, this Swansea cinema also doubles as a thriving arts centre with big ambitions – it hosts festivals in Swansea city centre, and takes its productions out to tour nationwide. But the cinema remains the heart of Taliesin, with a 300 seat auditorium regularly sold out. With Gone Girl being the most mainstream movie available to watch at the time of writing, Taliesin is definitely at the more arthouse end of the scale.
Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast
One of the leading cinema’s in Northern Ireland, the QFT specializes in showing the very best of new and classic world cinema. Opened in 1968, it was also the first cinema in Northern Ireland to upgrade to a digital projector, it also operates a really great value for money membership scheme which means you can see some of the films for £3, all the while supporting the QFT and it’s educational and community outreach projects. These include numerous talks from industry professionals, educational screenings, and a youth takeover film festival weekend.
The Rex, Elland
First of all, it’s situated on a genuine Coronation Street, which surely counts for something. Opened in 1912, it’s one of the oldest structurally unaltered cinemas in the country. With a loyal following, a true highlight of this cinema has to be the regular organ concerts it holds, complete with a ‘novelty’ short film screening. At just £5, with free tea and biscuits, it’s a steal. The website also includes appearing on Film 94 as a history highlight, which I absolutely love.
An aptly named media arts centre, the Lighthouse sets out to increase the enjoyment and understanding of film, video, photography, and creative media and to emphasise their importance to the cultural, social, and economic life of Wolverhampton and the West Midlands. So no small aim then. It’s pretty good at succeeding in this mission to, as thousands of supporters will attest. Opened in 1987, it’s an independent charity showing a diverse range of mainstream and underground programming, and is not too straight-faced to screen V for Vendetta on Fireworks Night.
Newcastle Community Cinema, Northern Ireland
Breaking my self-imposed rules again for what constitutes an independent cinema, the NCC is really a film society in a permanent location. So why does it make it in while hundreds of other incredibly brilliant film societies don’t? Because it’s the best one there is, that’s why. Current holders of the British Film Society of the Year two years running, their mission goal is to provide cinema to the community and show how film can provide a vital educational and entertainment role. The NCC runs an annual four day film festival every September, and at the end of November they’re screening Flight of Dragons on the big screen. Shut up and take my money.
Everyman Hampstead, London
Just about sneaking under the flimsy rule set is the Everyman chain, who now of course also rule over the Screen chain. For me, they just get the edge over Curzon due to the slightly more low key business model. As for which Everyman/Screen to go with, you could pick any of their locations which all offer something different. Screen on the Green almost made it in, but in the end I plumped for the original in Hampstead. Slightly scruffy round the edges, not quite as luxurious as the rest, it still maintains a raffish air, and offers great service as well as a sumptuous line-up of movies. Everyman helped redefine what it meant to go to the movies, and this is exactly where it all started.
Palace Picture House, Armley Mills
With such a grand title as the Palace Picture House, you probably wouldn’t expect a tiny 24 seater Victorian affair would you? But that’s exactly what you get with this little beauty, housed in the Armley Mills Industrial Museum. Home to Minecine, one of the best cinema clubs in the country, the Palace Picture House feels like stepping into a time machine and going back to the earliest days of film. But while you half expect to see Georges Melies latest on-screen, you’re more likely to get a retrospective screening of Doug Liman’s Swingers thanks to Minecine.
Star & Shadow, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Sometimes indie cinemas can’t catch a break. Despite being heralded for its amazing social work, and rewarded with a £100,000 boost by authorities, Star & Shadow has recently been served notice on the building it resides and is now looking for a new home. Which I really hope it gets, as it’s a truly brilliant place. Operating an open doors policy (asylum seekers get free entry to films) and run entirely by volunteers, the Star and Shadow aims to showcase the widest possible variety of films and art. In their own words, ‘these may be locally made or inspired films, art films, political films, international films, gay and lesbian films, classic films or independent cinema, local musicians, international musicians, or artists and storytellers of all kinds.’
The Picture House, Uckfield
Opened in 1916, The Picture House in Uckfield approaches it centenary year in excellent form. Run by cinema buff Kevin Markwick, whose family have owned the cinema since 1968, The Picture House is one of those places that is for cinema lovers by cinema lovers. Like all great indie cinemas, it evokes strong loyalty and passion amongst its fans & patrons, and really sums up why indie cinemas are so important. As much as they bring cinema to the masses, the chains simply don’t make that emotional connection. If my local Odeon/Cineworld/Vue (delete as applicable) shut down I think I’d be annoyed, but I wouldn’t mount a campaign to keep it open. But somewhere like The Picture House I would fight tooth and nail for.
Quite simply an institution. Films for a fiver in London? Is this possible? Yes, and it’s all the latest releases too. A true independent multiplex, this rarity is definitely not a beautiful cinema beloved by architecture fans. But it is a true gem, and caters for the whole gamut of film fans, from the cineaste to the thrifty filmgoers who just want a bargain. What it lacks in surface charm it makes up for in attitude, and a fierce loyalty from those who visit.
This tiny little microplex describes itself as an ‘art venue, adult crèche and progressive social wellbeing enterprise’. Who doesn’t want that in a cinema? A non-profit co-operative, it’s 108 seat screen is served by local and ethical products. So no Coca-Cola or Nescafe here, instead own recicpe cola and feral free trade coffee from Central America. Staffed by volunteers, the Cube sent people over to Haiti to screen films for earthquake survivors. As for the programming itself, it’s a diverse and documentary heavy list which also finds room for Gone Girl. Other highlights include Games Nights, Science Cabaret, and setting up cinema nights in amazing locations – such as a tin mine in Cornwall.
The Station, Richmond, North Yorkshire
Housed in a restored Georgian station, this two screen cinema sits at the heart of a shopping site full of independent shops and eateries. Part of the trend to make former spaces commercially viable, it’s great to have independent cinemas so integral to regeneration projects. But while some seem to be mere packaging for various investors to buy up property and make oodles of money, places like the Station genuinely seem to want to serve the local town with a great selection of films, and not just whatever is on at the chains, but a few weeks later.
A bang up-to-date arts centre which recently benefited from a £15 million refurbishment, MAC is a cultural cornerstone of the Midlands. With over 500,000 visitors a year, MAC blends al the art disciplines to make a welcoming place – even more so now its had its revamp. It helps host the Into Film Festival, the worlds largest free film festival for young people (it shows The Lion King!), and plays a great mix of art-house and documentary.
Cottage Road Cinema, Leeds
A quick straw poll of people’s favourite independent cinema revealed a few things. Firstly that lots of Picturehouse Cinemas are still regarded as independent (they’re not sadly, but still great cinemas), and secondly that Cottage Road Cinema is absolutely beloved. 104 years old, Cottage Road is one of the oldest cinemas in the UK, and a true national treasure. While it will show the usual films you can find in plenty of other cinemas, it really distinguishes itself with the monthly Cottage Classics screenings. This is the type of place that will show It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve and give you free mince pie and mulled wine. It warms your heart just thinking about it.
Arthouse Crouch End, London
Demonstrating that even in these times of austerity and biting arts cuts, culture and independent cinema can flourish comes the Arthouse in Crouch End, a brand new indie cinema opened only a few short months ago. The films on offer are an intriguing mix between current acclaimed indie (think Pride, Mr Turner, The Imitation Game) and more leftfield fare such as Bjork: Biophilia Live, Black Rainbow complete with introduction form director Mike Hodges, and Blade Runner: The Final Cut. It also offers sensory impaired, babes in arms, and over 60s special screenings, plus offers popcorn at a pleasing £1.50. Here’s to its success!
Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow
The Glasgow Film Theatre has an illustrious history. Originally opened in 1939 as The Cosmo, it was the first arts cinema in Scotland and the second purpose built one in the whole of the UK. It survived until 1973, when it was forced to close. However, it was happily sold to the Scottish Film Council, who re-opened it in 1974 as the Glasgow Film Theatre. A not for profit venture, the Glasgow Film Theatre plays host to the Glasgow Film Festival (as well as the linked youth and short film festivals). While the beloved Cosmo café may no longer survive (demolished for a 3rd screen), the character and atmosphere of the Glasgow Film Theatre does, and makes this an important part of Scottish film heritage.
Corn Exchange, Newbury
A quite beautiful venue to sit back and enjoy film, this West Berkshire cinema can be found in a mid 19th century building in the centre of Newbury. Site of an infamous punch-up between members of The Who, the Corn Exchange continues its tradition as a multi-use arts centre, but for my money it’s the chance to watch films here that’s the real draw. A ‘cosy’ 40 seat upstairs screen showcases the best British and world cinema, with occasional blockbusters putting in an appearance too. Silver screenings, parent and baby screenings, and relaxed screenings for those on the autism spectrum add to the community focused vibe and lift this above many other cinemas.
Formerly the Digital Media Centre, The Phoenix is an amazing space where film can inspire you. With everything from micro-budgeted indie films which even the most avid film-goer will probably not heard of, to the latest and greatest blockbusters, the Phoenix caters for a wide audience – which is a big part of its remit. A charity, it prides itself on friendly staff who really care about the films they’re putting on. Of course, no indie cinema worth its salt is complete without a fancy café bar, and again the Phoenix delivers on this. This is £21 million well spent.
Showroom Workstation, Sheffield
While the vast majority of these cinemas are single screen beauties, there are some that prove multi-screen independents are not only viable, but successful too. Showroom Workstation is one of these. Housed in a former car showroom, and with four screens showcasing a range of blockbusters, indie docs, and little known gems, as well as a dedicated cult Tuesday (Serenity is on!), Showroom Workstation also finds time to be a cultural hub in Sheffield, a major part of Film Hub North, and a base for many creative entrepreneurs. You won’t find all that at your local multiplex…
The Point, Eastleigh
Originally a performing arts centre, The Point has steadily made a name for itself as a independent cinema of some renown in the last few years. While Eastleigh has gained a Vue cinema recently, it hasn’t stopped The Point from providing a strong counterpoint (no pun intended…) and embracing such varied film fare as a screening of Pride and a sing-a-long Frozen in quick succession. It also played a part in this year’s inaugural and highly successful Eastleigh Film Festival.
Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick
Beaten only by the Barbican (sorry for not including that by the way!) for size and scope, this University of Warwick located arts centre looks super futuristic and has a progressive schedule of film to match. As well as the latest art-house releases, it hosts a Saturday film talk, mixes in world cinema classics, and offers a five-week film course for those who really want to understand more about what they’re watching on-screen. Added to this is a full programme of theatre, music, dance, and contemporary arts, and the Warwick Arts Centre is a must visit venue.
Sacred Cinema, Ventnor
Housed in an old church on the Isle of Wight, Sacred Cinema is home to the glorious Isle of Wight Film Festival. Designed to be as accessible as possible to film fans, the IOWFF offers a £5 flat rate for all screenings (free if you’re an accredited filmmaker) and camping if you want to keep things super cheap. The atmospheric Sacred really lends the proceedings an ethereal air, only made that much more complete when you wander around the town and see the blue plaques telling you Keats lived there…
West Side Cinema, Orkney
One of my favourites on this list. A not for profit voluntary run enterprise, West Side Cinema dedicates itself to showing the types of films normally confined to the film festivals of the world. They regularly go above and beyond to unearth gems that it would be impossible to track down for audiences, and screen them all together with short films. They also provide candle-lit tables and operate a bring your own policy. In short, this is cinema heaven in some of the most gorgeous scenery in Britain.
Palace Cinema, Cinderford
A truly beautiful vintage cinema, The Palace Cinema proves that running an independent cinema is a real labour of love for owners. There’s a hand-drawn map on how to get there on the website, a whole host of original features in the building itself, and a friendly couple who run it. Obligatory free tea and coffee with winter tea matinees are a winner, and to celebrate 10 years of the current management, tickets are an unbelievable £2.50 this November. That’s got to be worth the price of a train ticket to the Forest of Dean…
Barn Cinema, Totnes
Located on the Dartington Estate, just outside Totnes (twinned with Narnia), is this converted 14th century barn, which as the name implies, is also a cinema. Worth it for the experience alone, Barn Cinema also happens to show a pleasing programme of progressive arthouse cinema from around the world seven days a week, as well as more mainstream movie. Outside of Bristol, a common complaint in that part of the UK is a lack of alternative options to the chain cinemas, so it’s great that something so unusual can flourish and offer film lovers something a bit different in a pretty unique environment.
Shortwave Cinema, London
Considered a key aspect of the local Bermondsey community, Shortwave is a cinema, bar, and café right in the heart of London. A small 52 seat screen shows recent blockbuster releases alongside indie darlings, debut directorial efforts, international film festivals, and live music. The staff and patrons mingle freely, and combined with Bermondsey’s recent awakening as craft beer central, it makes spending a few hours in this part of the world highly desirable. A great example of how a local independent cinema can really help define an area.
The Plaza, Truro
Finally, we’re off to Cornwall, for the four-screen Plaza. As with many independent cinemas of some vintage – the Plaza dates back to 1936 – this one’s passed through different owners over the years, but has now firmly established itself as a west country home for film lovers. That’s no mean feat: in the mid-1990s, the Plaza’s future looked dicey, as it was closed down for nearly two years, before new owners invested in and refurbished the place. Now, the Plaza is a regular awards-magnet, and boasts a varied, interesting programme. It’s also run and staffed by people from the local area.
Feel free to recommend any independent cinemas we’ve not covered this time around in the comments below…
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