Manhattan boasts some of the most established indie theaters in America, but Brooklyn is the new hub for truly alternative film culture. With countless microcinemas, film collectives and infant indie houses, Brooklyn is absolutely the borough to visit for films that can be found nowhere else.
The most established independent Brooklyn cinema is absolutely BAM Rose Cinemas. Housed in America’s oldest performing arts center, BAM Rose hosts countless festivals every year, including the locally renowned BAMcinematek. The theater offers a blend of old and new, national releases and local events. Like its Manhattan counterpart IFC Center, BAM programs many director and actor Q&As, but these in demand events usually sell out well in advance of the screening night.
For a more intimate experience, check out the two-screen Brooklyn Heights Cinema. Though the theaters house 150 seats each, the art house, foreign and independent films screened there are hand picked by new owner Kenn Lowy. With an upscale café that vends everything from popcorn slathered in real butter to a Brooklyn egg cream, this local institution offers a prime viewing experience for much less than a national chain.
reRun Gastropub Theater continues the gourmet concessions experience. Restricted to patrons over 21, reRun’s small screening room contains its own bar. So grab pretzel stuffed with garlic mashed potatoes or paprika popcorn doused in duck fat and enjoy a hyper-local release from stadium seating made of car seats. The films are guaranteed to be unique, and maybe a bit weird, but are only granted a short run at the one-screen venue. So if you don’t like the current showing, wait a couple days and check back, for there isn’t a New York viewing experience like reRun.
Similarly, an evening at Nitehawk Cinema promises both dinner and a show. Three theaters feature tableside food service for the entire length of the screening. Arrive half an hour early to nab the best seat in the house and place your order before the feature presentation. Just so you won’t be bored, pre-show entertainment includes the work of local artists and filmmakers. At Nitehawk, your belly will be full and tab paid before the credits begin to roll.
As if Williamsburg needed more hipster credibility, indieScreen opened in June 2011 to replace the defunct Vaudeveille-era Commodore. The permanent home of the Brooklyn Film Festival, indieScreen also shows offbeat and under-released indie and foreign pictures. Beyond concessions, indieScreen houses a full bar and a café featuring Asian and New York inspired fare.
So while you’re escaping the bustle of Manhattan, be sure to catch a show at one of Brooklyn’s growing underground cinemas.