Independent films, often called indie films, are a welcome break from the standard Hollywood-style blockbusters crossing the screens of the average theater. Indie filmmakers seek more of the art of cinema rather than profits. It’s all about creating an experience. It may be deep and meaningful, powerful or sublime, drama or documentary, but in all cases, indie films diverge from the formulas used in the mainstream film industry. These five best indie theaters were chosen because they are more than theaters. Each offers movie lovers an opportunity to share the experience with producers, artists or others.
611 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
The Cinefamily Theater has the mission to ‘foster a spirit of community’ among the film-loving public. Founded in 2007, it has a growing reputation as much more than a theater. Just last year, over 53,000 people visited in person and the Cinefamily live-stream had more than 1.5 million views. The theatre’s YouTube site is widely viewed, as well. More than just a theater, Cinefamily wants each event, or viewing, to be a ‘social experience.’ Because its intent is to show the most unique, distinctive and even odd films to the public, this is truly an Indie film theater and more. It regularly has special guests from the film world, live music, dance and potluck dinners. If you are a cinephile, this is the Southland’s center for socializing.
11272 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
From Los Angeles’ Westside, the Nuart Theater presents film as eclectic as the local community. Many indie, documentary, foreign and animation films have had their world premier at the 30-year-old theater. Renovations in 2006 brought the building and its technology into the 21st century. With the power of 50-theater-strong corporation Landmark Theaters, the Nuart draws in the best cutting-edge film from around the world. The adult-oriented environment includes all of the standard amenities, including gourmet snacks and refreshments. The chain is dedicated to ‘marketing independent film,’ so expect the best and most creative indie films available in Los Angeles.
6360 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Unique programming mixes with pop blockbusters at this famous movie-goer theatre in Hollywood. The Arclight Theaters celebrates “film and community” with classics, limited releases, exclusive content and specialty cinema. Often times you’ll find that filmmakers join in at special events where they interact with visitors in a Q&A format as well which makes for a rather interesting night. With retail sales, a cafe; and bar on site, this theater is an upscale break from the movie-going norm. In all, it’s an experience and opportunity to enjoy the entire range of film from the latest standard Hollywood-type productions to the avant-garde, and from the wholly unique to the classics and more. The Arclight Theaters also offer twenty-one-plus special event screenings with adult beverages.
Arena Cinema Hollywood
1625 N. Las Palmas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
As a theatre that encourages independent filmmakers to showcase their indie creations, the Arena Cinema Hollywood also encourages established and up-and-coming producers to apply for their films to be shown. Distributors are often invited to private and public screenings as well. Typical of indie theaters, the film’s maker is usually on hand after the screening to meet, greet and answer questions in an informal environment. From the door monitor selling tickets to the healthy snacks in a basket, a feel of welcome and familiarity becomes palatable. The Arena’s classic theater seating, smaller audiences and stage screen create an ambiance not possible at a standard theater – it’s a genuine cinema experience.
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1262 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
They call it ‘West LA’s premiere showcase‘ for indie films and a ‘destination for artists and entertainers.’ The original theater was built in 1940, and renovations have retained that classic architecture as it is a part of filmmaking history. Designated as a cultural landmark by the city in 2010, Crest Theater has moved full force to the present landscape of cinematographic creativity and interactive entertainment. After reopening last year, the Crest has held everything from birthday parties to burlesque shows, but for indie fans, the film festivals and red carpet premiers are the greatest draw. Up-to-date acoustics, a designer interior and general informality make it an ideal spot for couples as well. The eclectic mix of entertainment and indie films makes this theater an experience to repeat.
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Robert Cuthbert is a freelance writer covering all things Los Angeles. His work can be found on Examiner.com.