The Best Independent Cinemas in Milan

The screening room at Il Cinemino in Porta Romana, Milan | © Carlo Prevosti / Courtesy Il Cinemino
The screening room at Il Cinemino in Porta Romana, Milan | © Carlo Prevosti / Courtesy Il Cinemino | © Carlo Prevosti / Courtesy Il Cinemino
Italy has a rich cinematic heritage, and this is reflected in a large number of passionately run independent cinemas in Milan. Across the board, programming is definitely diverse; you are far more likely to find screenings of shorts, documentaries and art-house titles here than in London. Whilst Italy is renowned for dubbing new film releases, screening films in their original language is increasingly popular and Milan’s arthouse cinemas are leading the way, which is great news for visitors and expats.

Cinema Beltrade

Housed in a former church, Cinema Beltrade is arguably the most beautiful cinema in Milan. It is located in the periphery but the young and creative neighbourhood Pasteur, or what has recently been coined NoLo. Founded in 2013, it was one of the first cinemas in the city dedicated to screenings in the original language. The all-female management champions small distribution companies, which gives them flexibility for multiprogramming and to show small, independent films for longer. A wide selection of mainstream hits also get air time here; for example, the 2018 Oscar-winning film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. They are currently staging an entire season dedicated to the inimitable Wes Anderson back catalogue, including his earliest (somewhat questionable) productions. Cinema Beltrade is also known for its events, typically staged in collaboration with the community – the local bars, shops and schools.

Tickets: €7 / Concession: €5

Signage at Cinema Beltrade, one of Milan's best-loved art house cinemas © Cinema Beltrade
A warm welcome from Cinema Beltrade in NoLo, Milan © Cinema Beltrade

Cinema Mexico: The Rocky Horror House

Cinema Mexico is located in the fashionable Zona Tortona district but was famous in Milan long before the neighbourhood become hip. It is celebrated for being distinctly anti-fashion because it has been showing the 1975 musical hit The Rocky Horror Show every Friday since 1976. From 1981, the screening has been accompanied by an amateur cast performing live in the theatre in tandem. The wacky event is ever-popular and guests are usually in full Rocky Horror costume.

When the cinema isn’t revelling in the 1970s, it hosts a mix of contemporary mainstream Italian and international films and the occasional arthouse title. Cinema Mexico is also part of Milan’s ‘Sound & Motion Picture’ initiative, a group of cinemas that commit to one day per week for films in original language. At Cinema Mexico, it is every Thursday.

Il Cinemino

Located in the well-heeled Porta Romana, Il Cinemino is a film club run by the Sei Seneca Cultural Association, established with the aim of creating a lively meeting point for film-lovers. It has one small screening room and a groovy 1970s-inspired bar. The programme is incredibly varied, and not just in terms of showing small-scale productions and independent films, documentaries, animations and shorts, but also in the more mainstream genres. For example, they regularly include films for children and include popular artist biopics and documentaries, such as Egon Schiele (Germany, 2016). The programme is not dictated by release dates so you can enjoy screenings of things you missed the first time around. Because Il Cinemino is technically a film club, in order to buy tickets you must first buy a membership card. It costs just 5 euros for the whole year (free for children) and you can purchase it online. As a member, you also have access to its popular events. Normally, all films are screened in the original language with Italian subtitles, except for the first afternoon viewings for children, which are in Italian.

Tickets: €7 / Concession: €5

The discreet Il Cinemino in Porta Romana, Milan © Il Cinemino
The groovy bar at Il Cinemino in Porta Romana, Milan © Il Cinemino

Spazio Oberdan: Cineteca Italiana

Spazio Oberdan is a cultural event space in which cinema is just one facet. The mid-century screening theatre is vast and feels more like a university lecture hall than your typical red velvet sala. The theatre screens films selected by Cineteca Italiana, first established in 1947 and officially registered as a foundation in 1996. Cineteca Italiana aims to ‘conserve and enhance film heritage and the diffusion of film culture in Italy and abroad’, so the programme regularly features historic titles such as Antonio Pietrangeli’s Fantasmi a Roma (Ghosts in Rome) (1961). Spazio Oberdan also hosts several film festivals.

Tickets: €8.50 / Concession: €6.50