Based in the West Village, Film Forum is an autonomous non-profit cinema house that has the wonderful distinction of being open for more than four decades. The theater’s three screens run a variety of American independent features and foreign art films every day of the year, and curates in-house film festivals, documentary showings and retrospectives as well. These special events often bring writers, directors, filmmakers and authors to the stage for lectures and Q & A sessions, which can render the fewer than 200-seat spaces a bit cramped at times. But for the cinematically passionate, Film Forum remains a mecca of quality film screenings and rare archival showings, all run by a core group of buffs and hobbyists who truly enjoy the work they do.
Located in a former fire station, this cinema in Greenwich Village is the neighborhood’s longest running. Since 1963, Cinema Village has survived on a steady diet of art-house and indie programming, which has included documentaries, animation, cult classics, foreign films and festival screenings. Now decked out for the digital era, the three screens continue to play to audiences of up to 156 inside the tight, spartan theaters. But the lack of creature comforts matters little to the dedicated patrons who come for the shows they can’t get anywhere else in the city. And should you arrive too early to grab a seat, waiting space is always available in the small, dim downstairs lounge.
Originally called the Austin, this vintage 1930s theater has seen several ups and downs in its history, from years as a second-run double-feature house to a red-tinted stint that got it shut down by the city. In its current incarnation, the Kew Gardens Cinemas flaunts restored art-deco flair alongside modern projectors and molar-rocking surround sound. Stadium seating and a fully stocked concession stand further complement current flicks by granting every set of eyes a great view and every set of dental braces something to hold during scary scenes. Swing by the theater with a friend to snack on your own small popcorns (a $5 value each) and sip sodas (a $3.50 value each) while enjoying a vintage movie-viewing experience that beats watching Betamax tapes on your Great Uncle Vinnie's 1978 Zenith.
Tribeca Cinemas screens the latest works by renowned national and international filmmakers, but not on a new-movie-every-Friday schedule. Instead, Tribeca's two theaters hosts festivals throughout the year, including the famed Tribeca Film Festival, the Architecture & Design Film Festival, NY Television Festival, and Vision Fest. In between fests, the theater's curators stick to foreign films and repertory classics, which they screen using both digital projections and projectors for 35mm and 16mm reels. They also do private screenings and theater rentals.
But entertainment at Tribeca Cinemas isn't just limited to what's onscreen. Soirees at The Varick Room, the theater's industrial-chic event venue, run the gamut from film premieres and rehearsal dinners to lavish cocktail parties. Backed by glowing red letters that spell "LIQUORS," bartenders whip up cocktails themed around each event, while the wait-staff distributes beverages and bottle service to a soundtrack of live entertainment.
The Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in the West Village is a major New York theater scene mainstay, having produced and premiered more than sixty shows in the past 19 years. That’s in addition to many public and private readings of works that aren’t quite ready for the stage, followed by talkback sessions between the audience and playwrights. A new addition to Rattlestick’s repertoire is Theater:Village, an arts festival that involves staging five different shows simultaneously, all around a central theme. The intimate space means something meaningful is always happening, and the 99 cozy red velvet seats offer a comfortable counterpoint to the often challenging and cutting-edge material on the stage. With hard-hitting shows like How to Make Friends and then Kill Them and The Correspondent, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater has truly embraced its role as a New York theater community mainstay, and a home for adventurous playwrights to hone their craft.
Situated on the mezzanine level of Lincoln Center, opposite 65th street from the Metropolitan Opera House, the Walter Reade Theater is the city’s premiere destination for curated foreign art, rare and off-beat film presentations. The Film Society of Lincoln Center uses the Walter Reade Theater to screen an average of four films a day, often curating the shows around directors, national film schools and various film styles, as well as more esoteric themes. The well-appointed theater seats more than two hundred and fifty patrons, each with plush seats and great sightlines to the screen. A stage area in front also frequently accommodates speakers, including popular Q & A sessions with directors, writers and actors during special screenings. An art gallery off the entryway exhibits any array of cinematic art, including rare movie posters.