Community Indie Cinemas
Save to Collections
Of all the vibes to have come about in the last few years - your family vibes, sexy vibes, vibing vibes - communal vibes is our favourite. And these cinemas are all about that: places that are somehow still fighting the good fight against the Goliath-like chains, paying the living wage and screening arthouse films, which we can pretend we'll go and see. Here's our pick of cinemas that'll warm your heart and body, if you need to hibernate some place.
If you fancy feeling part of your very own film club, head to the Lexi. Intimate, cosy and full of real nice sorts, it's the UK's 'first social enterprise boutique digital cinema', which is a lovely little tagline. It's completely run by volunteers, which seems almost implausible in this day and age, and all profits go to charity. If that doesn't make you feel a little warm inside then perhaps your ex was right about you. Showing current releases and a nice line up of documentaries, tickets are £11.50 (£7 on Mondays).
If you were to look in the bedrooms of other cinemas, you might find posters of Genesis on the walls. This is what indie cinemas aspire to be: a swish, nicely done up space designed by a couple of film-set designers. Along with 3 large screens, there's a nice cafe and bar where local Mile Enders rub shoulders with arty sorts seeking cinematic thrills; and tickets are cheap. Real cheap. It's £5.50 on Mondays and £10.50 the rest of the days.
Is it a dream? A cinematic mirage? A filmic fantasy? No, Deptford Cinema is real, and we thank the gods of the big screen every day that it exists. Started by a group of volunteers a few years back - many of whom lived in the same building as the cinema - DC is still very much a community affair, completely not-for-profit and frequently hosting events outside the realm of cinema, such as activist meetings and life drawing classes. With tickets mostly £6 a pop, and cheap drinks aplenty, you could easily spend every weekend lost in this fairy-lit heaven.
A few years back, some adventurous locals spotted an old Salvation Army quarters lying dormant and decided to give it a lil' makeover. The result is ArtHouse Crouch End, a communal art hub that puts on all sorts across their two screens including recent releases, live streams of NT productions, music, discussions, dance, and comedy. It's all things to all CrouchEnders, a real local hero. Tickets are a tenner.
When the duo behind Pillow Cinema and Hot Tub Cinema came across an abandoned cinema space in Clapton they knew they were onto something. Namely, a space for a new cinema. Here we have a super glamorous and deluxe independent cinema - ideal for some 1920s-style escapism and indulging in a lil' bit of wooing.
Restored with a strong Art Deco aesthetic to it, the focus here is definitely on comfort - you're getting armchairs rather than seats. The bar is also very dope indeed and is a destination in its own right. Come here to catch decent releases, but be prepared to pay around £14 for the pleasure.
Dating back to 1910, this is one of London's oldest cinemas and plays the latest flicks though it also has a definite focus on arthouse pictures. A single screen set in an Art Deco space, there's a cafe, bar and they claim to have the fastest Wi-Fi in East Finchley. Which is very fast indeed, we imagine. It's run by the community and all profits go towards educational work and maintaining the building. If you're not into that, there's not much we can do for you, pal.
This Grade II listed, Art Deco building is home to a 1930s auditorium that's got some seriously sweepin' curves, red velvet seats, atmospheric pre-show music and long red curtains that swish back before the film starts.
With all these bougie adjectives, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was some high-end, money grabbing machine. But oh how wrong you are, honey. Rio Cinema is London's longest operating community cinema, having been not-for-profit for the last 40 years. In keeping with its community vibes, they play host to educational school screenings, fundraising events, and various films festivals.
Fixed inside a typically discreet railway arch near Loughborough Junction, Whirled Cinema feels a bit like the private set-up of a wealthy, cinephile pal - one you've worked hard to befriend for the sole reason of using their cinema. It's a 60 seater operation with comfy leather sofas, a bar serving cocktails and pizza, and a moody red glow lighting up the bare brick walls and creating that aura of escapism that all good cinemas need.
As you might have guessed, it's not about that blockbuster life. Instead they show arthouse with a capital A - a carefully curated line up that you might expect to find on Mubi. It's members only, with monthly membership at £10 that allows you to see as many films as you like and also bring along a friend. They screen films from Sunday to Wednesday and then it's available for private hire for the rest of the week.