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BAM Rose Cinemas Interior With Screen | Image Courtesy of BAM
BAM Rose Cinemas Interior With Screen | Image Courtesy of BAM
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NYC's Best Independent Theatres

Picture of Michael McGrath
Updated: 29 November 2016
Grown disenchanted with your local mega-movie theater complex? Tired of sitting through thirty minutes of soda/cell phone plan ads and awful, mind numbing, coming attractions? Bored by the endless releases of 3D/CGI films that question the boundaries of logic and physics, all accompanied with a tinnitus-inducing sound system? You are not alone, and thankfully, there are options. Here is a list of the best independent art house theaters in New York City.
BAM Rose Cinemas Interior With Screen | Image Courtesy of BAM
BAM Rose Cinemas Interior With Screen | Image Courtesy of BAM
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BAM Rose Cinemas

Brooklyn was in dire need of a film art house when the BAM Rose cinemas opened their doors in late 1998. The new venue, converted from an old music hall and playhouse, was an immediate smash with the public. As the theater’s reputation grew, so did its ambitions. BAM Rose began adding programs in addition to the critically acclaimed movies it normally presented. Today, it is a powerhouse curating its very own independent film festival along with retrospectives, premieres, artist’s talks, and panel discussions. The Bam Rose houses four separate, intimate theaters. They also offer a cinema club membership for a nominal fee that provides many perks, along with discounted admission to see your favorite movies.

30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, USA +1 (718)-636-4100

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Nitehawk Cinema

Everything about the Nitehawk Cinema oozes fun. Don’t expect the usual somber, indie theater vibe here; it feels more like a party. The Nitehawk has a single destination premise — a movie, dining, and drinks at its bar, making it the perfect social one-stop shopping plan. Patrons are seated 30 minutes in advance for ordering a meal, drinks, or appetizers that will be brought to your seat. The Nitehawk shows the latest independent releases and makes a point of playing cult classics during its midnight movie nights. Seek out their ‘Signature Series,’ which features fun, unique events. One of the most popular events includes ‘Live Sound Cinema,’ which provides live music accompaniment for silent and cult classic films.

136 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, USA +1 (718)-782-8370

Film Forum lobby | © Peter Aaron/Esto. Courtesy of Film Forum

Film Forum lobby | © Peter Aaron/Esto. Courtesy of Film Forum

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Film Forum

The Film Forum has been a New York City institution for over forty-five years. With a quarter of a million people in attendance annually and over five thousand members, the Forum has come a long way from its humble origins, when it was comprised of a single film projector and fifty folding chairs. Under the guidance of long time director, Karen Cooper, its mission has been to premiere important films that normally do not catch the attention of the public. It also provides cinephiles with thoughtfully curated retrospectives of some of the medium’s greatest artists. The Forum features inventive programming —some of its most popular includes a children’s program and artist introductions to films.

209 West Houston Street, New York, New York, USA +1 (212)-727-8110

Angelika | © Beau B/Flickr

Angelika | © Beau B/Flickr

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The Angelika

The lobby feels more like an airport terminal than a movie house, and you can hear the local subways rumble on by while watching a film. It lacks a cozy, quiet aesthetic that many art houses posses; yet the Angelika is by far the most popular indie film house in New York City. No theater in the city provides as many indie, documentary, and foreign film options on any given day than The Angelika, and their concession stand goes above and beyond the local bijou fare.

18 West Houston Street, New York, New York, USA +1 (212)-995-2570

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Sunshine Cinemas

The Sunshine is one of the newer theaters to present independent films to the public. This 700-seat venue has been entertaining Lower East Site patrons since it inception in 2001 — the site was formerly an old movie house/Yiddish Vaudeville Theater that eventually fell into hard times. Today, the Sunshine curates the best in independent film fare, and is well known for its midnight movies.

143 East Houston Street, New York, New York, USA +1(212)-260-7289

IMG_3552.JPG | © David Boyle/Flickr

IFC Center | © David Boyle/Flickr

IFC Center

The IFC Center is an art-house theater backed by The Independent Film Channel. Located in the heart of the West Village, it was once known as another fabled art house known as the Waverly. Opened in 2005, IFC uses the theater in different capacities. Aside from independent film releases, IFC offers previews, premieres, special events, and the occasional launch of its own in house-produced films. The cable channel also hosts a weekly round up show on site. The theater houses three separate theaters, a meeting area, a restaurant, and digital editing suites.

323 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York, USA +1 (212)-924-771

2537 Broadway, New York, New York, USA +1(212)-864-5400

Film Society of Lincoln Center | © Aisha Singleton
Film Society of Lincoln Center | © Aisha Singleton
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Film Society of Lincoln Center

Any organization that is behind an event like the internationally renowned New York Film Festival knows a thing or two about film. The Film Society of Lincoln Center is not only an organization that champions the advancement of cinema, it is also a vibrant art house theater. The Film Society curates impeccable films on a weekly basis in its two theaters. They also offer some wonderful film programs. The Society also annually produces a New Director/New Film Festival, and their eye for capturing tomorrow’s great new talents is incredibly accurate. One of the most popular events is free film talks, which provides the public with the opportunity to interact with some interesting and respected artists working today.

70 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, New York, USA +1 (212)-875-5610

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Cinema Village

Cinema Village is nestled along East 12th street in Greenwich Village. There is something achingly romantic about catching a film at this venue. It has has the classic art house looks, complete with its old school box office and a cute movie marquee that blazes like a beacon into the night. Once inside, you give yourself over to its snug, intimate, little theater charm. Film-goers are provided with a Hollywood screening room-esque atmosphere.

22 East 12th Street, New York, New York, USA +1 (212)-924-3363

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Kew Gardens Cinemas

The Kew Gardens Cinema provides a much needed independent film service to the people in the borough of Queens. Built in 1935, this refurbished Art Deco building has six theaters, providing Kew Gardens and the surrounding neighborhoods with a decent selection of the latest in indie cinema. The theater has an incredible old-time charm with its vintage, old school movie house looks, and it serves it constituency well with nice concessions and reasonable prices.

81-05 Lefferts Boulevard, Kew Gardens New York, USA +1 (718)-441-3002

Anthology Film Archives | © Eden, Janine and Jim/Flickr

Anthology Film Archives | © Eden, Janine and Jim/Flickr

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Anthology Film Archives

The Anthology Film Archives is an institution with the main objective of carrying the torch of film history. The Anthology, housed in an East Village converted municipal courthouse is part theater, part educational center, and part archive/preservation. The Anthology has amassed an amazing collection of over 20,000 films and 5,000 videotapes. Each year, the Anthology preserves an additional 25-35 films. Its reference library holds the largest collection of paper materials on the history of film in the world. The Anthology is frequented by film students, scholars, and researchers. The campus also contains two theaters that regularly display its collection, and on any given day, you can catch an old musical or a cheesy 1950s horror flick.

32 2nd Avenue New York, New York, USA +1 (212)-505-5181