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They say there’s a movie for every mood, but would you say there’s a cinema for every movie? With a popcorn bucket load to choose from, we take a look at London’s best alternative film venues.
When you’re welcomed with eclectic interiors and walls scattered with portraits of rock gods, it’s hard to imagine this north London cinema was once a Salvation Army hall. The ArtHouse, Crouch End opened in 2014 with a mission to serve as a unique hub for both artists and lovers of art to thrive in. This isn’t just a cinema, but a venue for an array of live music, comedy, fine art, theatre, dance, discussion groups and workshops.
Previously known as the National Film Theatre, the BFI Southbank is one of London’s most famous cinemas and is the go-to venue for the British Film Institute and its associated prestigious events. It’s a four-screen venue showing over 2,000 classic and contemporary movies each year. It has a book shop and two bar-restaurants with one nestled beneath Waterloo Bridge overlooking the River Thames.
Ciné Lumière was introduced as part of the Institut Français’ mission: to promote French language and culture while encouraging cross-cultural exchange and diversity. In its stunning art-deco house, Ciné Lumière is largely a repertory cinema that shows classic French and other European films, along with a few contemporary works. You can also find a language centre, a multi-media library, and a tempting French bistro.
Rich with cinematic history, Curzon Mayfair is housed in a grade II listed building that first opened its doors in 1934 and has since hosted many premieres and events. There are two screens: one has a smaller, intimate setting, while the larger screening room flaunts two royal boxes. This cinema offers diverse programming that includes many operatic and play performances, amid world cinema, documentaries, amateur, and independent films.
Known previously as The Aubin, The Electric in Shoreditch is part of Soho House Group, also the owners of the infamous Cinema Electric, Portobello. The Electric offers comfort and style as part of the experience, with a screening room that’s dotted with chic little tables and plush leather armchairs and complimentary cashmere blankets. There’s a licensed bar and deli food to tempt your taste buds, and the programme offers a good mix of mainstream and independent films. Plus, it’s all beneath the three-story beauty space, Barber & Parlour, if you’re ever in need of a little preening.
For an otherworldly experience, it’s worth checking out the IMAX at the Science Museum. With a screen taller than four of London’s red double-deckers, sophisticated surround sound, and IMAX’s famed multi-dimensional technology, this IMAX is a technical spectacle. Listings are typically of a science and nature museum and are widely available in 3. Why not expand on the experience by taking a stroll through the Science Museum free of charge?
The Lexi Cinema is run by volunteers with 100 per cent of the profits going to The Sustainability Institute in South Africa. There’s a fantastic variety of alternative visual arts to enjoy here, including opera, theatre, foreign films, and independent and mainstream movies. Interiors are chic and modern, and there’s a trendy little bar too.