Dana L. Friedkin, a New Yorker, shares with us her favourite places to see films in the City, and encourages us to find more quirky film houses.


The first time I ever went into New York City without my parents was in 2007. My business was to see a small release film called Wristcutters: Love Story which had failed to make it into the big house cinema near my small suburban home. Fueled by the need for independence, the beginnings of teenage angst and a love for Patrick Fugit, I convinced my parents I was ready for the journey, and they let me go…


IMG_0500.JPG by Kramchang, on Flickr

The Quad Cinema, 34 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Kramchang 

The theatre showing the movie was called The Quad Cinema, coincidentally my grandmother had worked there in the 70s. According to my grandma, the Quad, with its 4 screens, was one of the first multiplexes in the city. Theatres started to be designed with multiple screens, since offering more films was an efficient way to fill more seats and make money. For me, however, it was the smallest theatre I had ever been in, as well as the emptiest. I was accustomed to seeing popular blockbusters in 15 venue theatres, but not many city folks had turned up to this indie film’s matinee. This did not deter me from the experience of indie cinema, but rather enchanted me with a practically private viewing of a film that lived up to all my expectations.

Note: The Quad is currently closed for renovations but is expected to reopen this fall.


Chelsea Cinemas by Tom Simpson, on Flickr

The Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema, 260 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Tom Simpson 

Another one of my favorite cinema memories is going to the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for a friend’s sixteenth birthday. We went to the Bow Tie Cinema in Chelsea. We had dressed to the nines — all in a leopard print and leather combination and sharing the same red lipstick. Though we ended up standing out in a relatively normal dressed group of 20/30 years olds in the queue, all of us shared an equal enthusiasm for this unique experience. Before the doors opened we got a sneak peak of the live cast, who flirted through the line, riling viewers up for the show. After being seated, we went through our initiation as Rocky Horror “virgins”: getting in front of the crowd and faking an orgasm. To our embarrassment, none of us were really able to sell this performance as real life virgins; but this feeling quickly faded. We were soon swept up in the regular traditions of throwing rice and standing up to do the Time Warp as the movie played out. They say that given the right venue, the film has the potential to stir a great passion in its viewers; it was with the acceptance into this weird film goer club that I was able to find this true. The live cast was full of energy and excitement: seeing their performance cemented my love for this film and the film community.


SUNSHINE by Hobo Matt, on Flickr

The Landmark Sunshine Theatre, 143 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Hobo Matt 

For me, Landmark’s Sunshine Theatre is both the best named and best looking theatre in all of NYC. Landmark Theatres often buy beautiful historic buildings for their cinema venues, and the Sunshine is no exception. Going to the Sunshine makes me feel like I am going to an event — as if every viewing were a movie premiere. It is a theatre that is grand and important, which creates a sophisticated ambiance that cannot be replicated by the local strip mall. The Sunshine is my go-to for small release films, and every one of these films has been lifted by up the theatre experience. (They also hold a midnight showing of The Room on some nights, which I have never been to but hope to do at some point.)


Watching the new #JamesBrown movie with by D.Clow - Maryland, on Flickr

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 2548 Central Park Ave, Yonkers, NY 10710

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  D.Clow – Maryland 

Over the years I have acquired a few local favorites. The Bow Tie Cinema 100 is a small indie cinema in White Plains which usually has the same films as my NYC picks, though usually slightly later than their original release. The cinema has $6 tickets on Tuesdays, and has been home to many of my inevitably awkward dates. The recent addition of The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Yonkers made my viewing of Boyhood fly by with the help of a delicious chicken sandwich. The Alamo is basically a dinner theatre, with a bar set up by the seats. Their menu offers a selection of American classics, and your food is delivered halfway through the film by a very discreet waitress.

Cool cinemas exist everywhere if you look hard enough to find them. There are so many more fantastic theatres in New York City that I hope to go to, and that I hope continue to be enjoyed by the lucky public that gets to live there year round.



Dana L. Friedkin