Cinemas are some of the most underrated places where we can unearth new knowledge because of how much we can learn about the world from films. Sure, we will discover plenty from documentaries like Planet Earth and even non-fiction titles like Super Size Me, but there is still plenty to glean from when it comes to dramas, comedies, thrillers, romance and even action films. The recent Oscar Nominee for Best Picture by director Alfonso Cuaron doesn’t have a lot of showstopping action scenes, intense plot lines or even hints of a developing romance, but what it details is the beautiful sequence of social unrest, politics in Mexico and layers of personal crises that you can feed your brain.
Unfortunately, shows like these rarely make it to big screens and gigantic multiplexes until they find acclaimed success or make huge waves overseas. It is fact and if blockbusters are what you are looking for, you will find them at almost every corner of the city. This sticky situation has led to a rise in alternative cinemas that have made arthouse and indie releases their staple.
When it comes to the diverse and wide-spanning film genres, these cinemas will have something for everyone. Here are a few of those alternative cinemas that you can while your weekend afternoons away at while you are still fresh and new to Singapore.
The Projector ranks as one of Singapore’s favourite cinema because of how eclectic the whole setup is. For starters, the cinema sits where the historic Golden Theatre once was and this refurbished cinema plays hosts to a wide mix of films from black-and-white films, cult classics to selectively screening of mainstream titles like Captain Marvel. In either of the two theatres at The Projector, you can either grab a seat in one of the old-school armchairs or make yourself comfy in one of the bean bags in the front few rows. A brilliant touch to it all is the addition of themed nights and if dressing up is your jam, you would certainly enjoy all the soirees like the recent Rocky Horror Show-themed nights.
While this independent cinema does resemble a typical cinema that you might be more familiar with, its film selection is anything but that. What Filmgarde prides itself in is its range of local and international blockbusters and independent flicks that consists of exclusive releases from regional filmmakers. Something that would delight audiophiles is the cinema’s focus on cutting-edge sound and the cinema is the first in all of Asia to be fitted with an impressive sound system from Auro Technologies and Barco, taking your theatre-going experience to the next level.
The Screening Room
It might seem the unlikeliest of places to visit a cinema but you can find one along the many shophouses along Ann Siang Road in Outram Park. Situated walking distance away from where a scene of Crazy Rich Asians was shot at, this theatre is one for those who enjoy comfort and luxury while entertaining themselves with a cinema before them. Within the cosy and intimate space on the rooftop, patrons are invited to wine and dine with the finest food and wine from the in-house restaurant, while getting cosy in the lounge seats. As an added bonus, The Screening Room takes their holidays seriously and pairs their screening to the occasion. You will observe film screenings like The Notebook on Valentines’ Day and The Evil Dead on Halloween, a perfect way for you to bathe in the festive spirit.
The Arts House Screening Room
Housed within the resplendent The Arts House, the screening room within it is an intimate 75-seater venue where movie-lovers can get together to engage in the most hotly-debated films. There is no discrimination between local and international titles and they all get the same duration in the limelight in the monthly programme. On top of their usual line of films, The Arts House also regularly works with film organisations and independent filmmakers to premiere works that invite discussion. Expect to be informed, enlightened and even provoked with the films at The Arts House Screening Room.
When it comes to films, it is impossible to dismiss the number of films and talkies that hails from Bollywood. Unfortunately, it is hard to catch the most anticipated Bollywood flicks in your neighbourhood movie haunts, but you will find home at the Carnival Cinemas. Situated at the beautifully vintage landmark of Shaw Towers (where Jade Cinemas and Bombay Talkies once was), the theatre brings in a good mix of Tamil and Hindi films from India and beyond the region. If you are watching Hindi movies for the first time, take a bucket of popcorn with you and buckle in for the ride — most Hindi films run for the better parts of three hours and you would certainly be enamoured by the entire experience.