The Mayan (credit: Paul Harris)
There are a lot of different spots in town to catch some new flicks. Sure, you can head to one of the larger movie theaters for some of the bigger titles, but you can also venture into one of the smaller, more independent movie houses to discover a hidden gem. From larger nationwide-released independent films to small local filmmakers, there are several options for anyone who loves independent movies. You’ll avoid the long lines and the screaming children, and you’ll get to see movies that you may never have known about had you not ventured out to one of these great theaters in town.
590 Downing St.
Denver, CO 80218
The Esquire Theatre, like several of the local independent movie houses, is owned by Landmark Theatres. However, just because it is owned by a larger chain doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on any of the great lesser-known films. The Esquire is known for featuring independent movies, plus it is also home to the always popular Midnight Movie Madness on Saturday nights, where you can catch some of your old favorites on the big screen. Built in 1927, this historic theater has two screens and even a balcony to enjoy, plus the popcorn here is always some of the best.
The Bug Theatre
3654 Navajo St.
Denver, CO 80211
The Bug Theatre is home to the Emerging Filmmakers Project, the only truly local film showcase in town. On the third Thursday of every month at 8 p.m., you can head to the Bug to catch a variety of short films, created by local filmmakers. It is a wonderful way to get to know the independent film scene in Denver, as each short is followed by a question and answer session with the filmmakers themselves. Each Emerging Filmmakers Project event is different, and there is a new lineup every month, so you will want to return to this great event again and again, that way you won’t miss out on any of the great films.
The Mayan Theater
Denver, CO 80203
You’ve probably seen this iconic theater as you’ve driven south on Broadway, but have you ever taken the time to venture inside? This historic and beautiful theater has been a very popular spot for movie lovers since it was built in 1930. In 1986, The Mayan was restored to its former glory and boasts a stunning Art Deco style, three screens plus a café. You’ll see lots of great independent film here, as well as several foreign language options, and the concessions here are some of the best in town. The Mayan is another theater that is part of the Landmark Theatres family, but the films here are always unique and truly independent.
Sie Film Center
2510 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80206
The Sie Film Center is the home of the Denver Film Society, and is the only year-round theater of its kind in Denver. You’ll catch everything from independent features (both domestic and foreign) to documentaries and narrative specials. The schedule changes every week, so there is always something new to catch at the Sie Film Center. This recently renovated space has three theaters and a lovely lounge area to sit and enjoy a drink before or after the film. Plus, for those who want to learn a little more about the film industry, there are always lots of great events and classes happening just about every day of the week.
2800 S. Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80222
Chez Artiste is one of the oldest independent movie theaters in town, and it has just gone through a very extensive renovation. Gone are the old, uncomfortable seats and small screens with old projection. Now you’ll find plush leather seating with upgraded projection and sound, plus lots of elegant decorative touches throughout the space. There are three screens showing a variety of independent film and foreign language movies, with a schedule that changes every week. If you remember the old Chez Artiste, you’ll definitely want to check out the new renovations. You’ll enjoy all of the benefits of an old, classic movie house with lots of great modern touches, making Chez Artiste a must for any fan of independent film.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.