Classic, indie, local: 3 film services to support during movie theatre shutdown


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Not currently in Austin, The Texas Theatre in Dallas is also apart of Art House Convergence and a one of the hosts for Criterion Channel’s Art-House America collection.

If you’re the same type of weird as me, then you love classic cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I love the big blockbuster films, but I have a strong passion for preserving classic, award-winning art-house cinema and promoting independent filmmakers. As we are quarantined in our homes, here are some services and theaters who excel in preserving and cherishing classic, independent cinema. 

Criterion Channel 

If you are not a subscriber of the Criterion Channel and call yourself a cinephile,  you’re way behind. Criterion, also known as the Criterion Collection, is a collection of films that are the very best in terms of technical brilliance and achievement to outstanding performances and prolific direction. The Criterion Channel is a streaming paradise for cinephiles. The service provides access to films much like Netflix does, with a rotating array of films for subscribers to enjoy. 

The platform’s best feature is what it does to encourage film watching. It has collections curated by different people including Bill Hader, Rian Johnson and Sophia Coppola. It also has collections of different films from topics and genres to directors and actors. They brought back the Columbia Noir collection for its one-year anniversary. The noir collection was part of the platform launch and is one of my personal favorites. Another favorite is their double features, which are two films with a shared theme shown back to back. Sometimes it is the same story told in different ways, like “Dr. Strangelove” and “Fail Safe,” or two films that share the same tone, like “The Front Page” and “His Girl Friday.” They make for perfect three to four hours of movie watching. 

The Alamo Drafthouse

An Austin movie theater staple has moved to online screenings until the chain opens back up. Fans of their Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday series are in luck as they are continuing these films online. They are currently showing two outstanding horror-comedies, “Extra Ordinary” and “Porno,” in their virtual cinema. Both films premiered at SXSW in 2019 and were looking to make their theatrical runs this year. Not only is Alamo Drafthouse keeping films alive, but allowing the full theater experience at home with delivery orders., The Slaughter Lane locations along with locations in Denver and Raleigh have this option. If they aren’t delivering in your area just yet, you can always try to make their famous cauliflower wings at home. 

Austin Film Society

This local Austin non-profit does more than just screen movies. They are also a hub for community media and host the Texas Film Awards every year. They are also doing virtual screenings of some of their programming. AFS tends to do more international and classic films for their program, but it’s always a treat to see something new and unique there. 

As shelter in place orders are still in place, AFS continues to add more screenings on their website. If none of the films meet your needs, consider buying a film pass to help support the theater during its closure. If you’re not in Austin currently, find a local, independent theater in your area on the Art House Convergence website to see what they are doing to weather COVID-19.