13 places to watch movies outside of mall cinemas

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When you’re inside UP Film Institute’s Cine Adarna, you just know you’re in a place surrounded by people who live and breathe movies, because it’s been around since 1976 and was in fact the pioneering venue for film training in the country. Photo from UP FILM INSTITUTE/WEBSITE

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — We live in a time that has allowed us to enjoy all the movies we want in virtually any way we please, whether it’s on-demand, crystal-clear Blu-Ray, downloading, or streaming. But sometimes, even instant gratification can’t make up for the one-of-a-kind experience of settling into a seat in a crowded theater and watching a film on the silver screen.

Sure, smaller theaters don’t have La-Z-Boys, cup holders, or 3D glasses. But what they offer is something every fan of cinema can appreciate: a space where anything can and does happen. The rooms are small and the seats are limited, but they’re able to hold extended runs of movies that may not have been given the appreciation they deserved in bigger or mall chain cinemas, or present lovingly curated weird and rare titles. It’s something different, and always totally unique.

Below are some cinematheques, microcinemas, and venues for pop-up film screenings that are sure to satisfy or awaken the cinephile in you.


UPFI Film Center

When you’re inside UP Film Institute’s Cine Adarna, you just know you’re in a place surrounded by people who live and breathe movies, because it’s been around since 1976 and was in fact the pioneering venue for film training in the country. The selection ranges from classics like “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?” (usually populated by students trying to earn extra credit for history class) to festival favorites, such as the latest Cinemalaya entries including Respeto,” and everything in between. For something more low-key, there’s the Videotheque that houses 80 seats.

For screening schedules visit the UPFI Film Center website or Facebook page. UPFI Film Center is located at the Cine Adarna Bldg., Magsaysay and Osmena Ave.,UP Diliman, Quezon City.



Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD)

Located at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, the MCAD hosts a number of free screenings in its Multimedia Room every month, covering a vast range of themes and genres. Held every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, these film showings are the best way to broaden your horizon while witnessing something breathtaking on a big screen.

This month, the MCAD is showing three must-see titles: “Hands Over the City,” a drama about political corruption in Italy after World War II; “Stalker,” Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 science fiction film about a post-apocalyptic area that may hold the key to a person’s greatest desire; and “Urbanized,” a documentary on building cities and urban design.

For screening schedules, visit the MCAD Facebook page or Instagram. MCAD is located on the ground floor of the Benilde School of Design and Arts Campus, Dominga St., Malate, Manila.


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Black Maria Cinema

Black Maria, sister to the production company of the same name, is a microcinema that thinks big, with red velvet curtains and stairs adorned with movie quotes that everybody knows. It may only hold up to 40 people per screening, but it can be argued that it gives the audiences the best of both worlds: the chance to just see a movie in relative peace while knowing you’re in the company of like-minded, appreciative folks. The choice of titles is also far from limited, covering local and foreign cinema both classic and contemporary.

For screening schedules, visit Black Maria Cinema’s Facebook page. The Black Maria Cinema is located at 779 San Rafael St., SQ Film Laboratories Building, Plainview, Mandaluyong.


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Cinema ‘76 Film Society

Thanks to Cinema ‘76, you’ve officially run out of excuses not to see some of the most talked-about yet elusive Philippine movies. A handful of titles are usually shuffled around every week and given different time slots daily, to best suit the schedules of moviegoers. As a result, viewers get to see what makes these films so compelling for themselves (or, if they’ve already seen the film and loved it, remind themselves why), while the movies in question are given new life and further appreciation. And because it’s also the HQ of TBA Studios, the production company behind “Smaller and Smaller Circles” and “Heneral Luna,” among many others, there’s a pretty good chance you might run into your favorite actor or filmmaker — and what you pay goes directly to them.

For screening schedules, visit the Cinema ‘76 Film Society’s Facebook page or Twitter. Cinema ‘76 Film Society is located at 160 Luna Mencias St., Brgy. Addition Hills, San Juan.


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Cinema Centenario

It was only a matter of time for Maginhawa to get a microcinema of its own. Located on the second floor of a three-storey building, Cinema Centenario may have a 65-seat capacity, but it was planned and designed with a gigantic cinematic experience in mind, right down to the best way to hear and feel the sound.

With a focus on local cinema, it screens restored films, documentaries, and rare titles alongside crowd-pleasers like “Sakaling Hindi Makarating,” “Sana Dati,” “Patay na Si Hesus,” and even the recent MMFF Best Picture Ang Larawan.” And true to the spirit of its coveted address, business hours are a little offbeat: Screenings can take place early in the morning, or they can be reserved for the Beyond Midnight block.

For screening schedules, visit Cinema Centenario’s Facebook page. Cinema Centenario is located at 2F 95 Maginhawa St., Diliman, Quezon City.


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Blacksoup Cafe + Artspace

Also located in Maginhawa, Blacksoup has a wall adorned with large movie posters and art prints, except for a space in the middle left plain and white, which is used as a makeshift screen for projecting movies. It’s a fully functional cafe and restaurant, with delicious and filling dishes. Gather your family or your closest friends at a table and settle in for all kinds of entertainment. Think “The Wizard of Oz,” Lars Von Trier’s “Breathless,” or a Ridley Scott marathon — the possibilities are limitless.

For more information, visit their Facebook page. Blacksoup Cafe + Artspace is located at unit G, 154 Maginhawa St., Diliman, Quezon City.


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Cinematheque Center Manila

Established in 2016 by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the Cinematheque Center already feels like a long-standing, well-loved landmark for film enthusiasts in Metro Manila. Perhaps it’s the statue of the late filmmaker Gerardo de Leon that greets visitors before they enter, or the existence of a museum dedicated to the history of filmmaking and film theaters in the country. Baguio, Iloilo, Davao, and Zamboanga also have cinematheques supported by the FDCP.

Maybe it’s the screening room itself, fuss-free and without unnecessary embellishments, yet able to remind audiences why it’s so important and still so different to watch a movie on a big screen. The selection focuses on quality local fare, with some wonderful foreign titles thrown into the mix. This month, for instance, they’re holding a Czech Film Festival in partnership with the Embassy of the Czech Republic.

For screening schedules, visit the the Cinematheque Center Manila’s Facebook page. Cinematheque Center Manila is located at 855 T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila.



The CCP Arthouse Cinema

An ongoing program that takes place throughout the year, the Arthouse Cinema at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) aims to present audiences with art films from both the Philippines and other countries, through screenings and special events. As the home of the Cinemalaya Film Festival, the CCP also often offers a chance to revisit previous entries. Screenings for the month usually revolve around different themes, such as “unwholesome films,” journeys and travel, youth and coming-of-age, and true freedom.

For screening schedules, visit the CCP website or their Facebook page. The CCP is located along Roxas Blvd., Pasay City.


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Film Nights at Archivo 1984

A place that values warmth, where the personal becomes universal and attachment and sentimentality are commonplace, Archivo 1984 celebrates the lasting impact of tangible art, literature, music, and, especially, film. The gallery often holds screenings of hard-to-find Filipino movies, examples being designer Christian Espiritu’s “Alaga,” a complicated story of love discretion starring Edu Manzano, Charito Solis, and Amy Austria, and the Maricel Soriano and William Martinez vehicle “Pabiling,” directed by the incomparable Ishmael Bernal.

For more information, follow Archivo 1984 on Instagram. Archivo 1984 is located at  La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.


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Los Otros

A combined film lab, studio, and all-around platform for film and art, focusing primarily on the process, Los Otros has produced the works of directors John Torres (“People Power Bombshell”) and Shireen Seno (“Nervous Translation”). The studio continuously works with different international artists, filmmakers, and curators to bring their work to Manila, and in their effort to share their passion and dedication to the craft, they hold sporadic free screenings of all types of moving pictures. The most recent film, Stephanie Comilang’s “Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso,” puts together the documentary and science fiction genres and centers on the occupation of OFWs at Hong Kong’s MTR Central Station on Sundays.

For more information, visit the Los Otros Facebook page. Los Otros is located at 59 Mahabagin St., Teacher’s Village East, Quezon City.


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iChill Theater Cafe

Founded for and by fans of theater and performing arts, the student-oriented iChill Theater Cafe lets customers live out their thespian dreams and learn about the field through workshops and creating a general space to share passion, ideas, coffee, and good food. But more than that, it’s also a functioning miniature theater that holds performances and screenings of film adaptations or filmed productions of musicals, like “Newsies” and “Miss Saigon.” There’s also been an international film festival that lasted the whole day, and a night wherein they showcased short films. You may even opt to host a screening of your own through their affordable venue packages.

For more information, visit the iChill Theater Cafe Facebook page. iChill Theater Cafe is located at 1125 Dos Castillas St., Sampaloc, Manila.



Ciné Club at Alliance Française de Manille

The Alliance holds free weekly screenings in its Ondeo Auditorium, showcasing a wide selection (including animation and documentaries) of French, and sometimes Belgian and Filipino, films with English subtitles.

They also have ciné-goȗter, wherein visitors are invited to come in on a Saturday to enjoy afternoon snacks (goȗter translates to “taste”) before catching a family-friendly movie. Regular screenings are held every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. And while you’re there, you might as well have some dinner at Le Coude Rouge Restaurant or sign up for French lessons.

For screening schedules, visit the Alliance Française website. Alliance Française de Manille is located at 209 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel-Air II, Makati City.


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The Yard StreetFood Cinema

Drive-ins may be mostly a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean people who are passionate about cinema aren’t constantly thinking of fun new ways to enhance the moviegoing experience. Looking very much like a product of retro-futurism, the Yard StreetFood Cinema livens up your run-of-the-mill food park by showing a selection of movies every day, including summer blockbusters, superhero movies, and even dance movies and musicals. In the process, it proves that the perfect movie snack can’t simply be found at a concession stand — ribs or steak, anyone?

For more information, visit The Yard StreetFood Cinema Facebook page. The Yard StreetFood Cinema is located at 16 Timog Ave., Brgy. Laging Handa, Diliman, Quezon City.


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Nuvali Night Sky Cinema

Sitting out on a field by the lake, under the stars, fresh air all around you, blanket on the grass — dark, air conditioned rooms almost pale in comparison. The Night Sky Cinema at Nuvali is a free monthly event complete with booths and activities, contests, games, and food, and they show movies that are a guaranteed good time for the whole family. Last month, the Night Sky Cinema partnered with Cinema One and featured live performances from Keiko Necesario, Hale, and Moonstar88, as well as screenings of “Seven Sundays” and “Love You to the Stars and Back.”

For more information, visit the Nuvali Facebook page. The Nuvali Lakeside Picnic Grounds are located along Tagaytay Road, Don Jose, Santa Rosa, Laguna.