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The Barn Cinema, via dartington.org/whats-on/barn-cinema

Top indie cinemas in the South of the UK

28 December 2018 | Rosa Johnston-Flint

Whether you’re seeing a big budget blockbuster or a thought-provoking ‘indie’, going to the cinema is just that bit more special than staying at home. And while it’s easy to spot the big-name chains, there are plenty of independent cinemas, art centres and community hubs that you might not have heard of, which are often more carefully curated, responding to the needs and mood of their local community. We’ve put together a list of the coolest cinemas across the country waiting for you to pay them a visit…

Watershed Bristol
The Watershed sits right by the river in the heart of Bristol’s city centre. It was opened with the specific intent of becoming an important media centre, with an emphasis on film and photography, as part of a regeneration programme of the Harbourside. Since 1982, the cinema has been an integral element of the cultural life of Bristolians. It shows a range of independent and foreign film as well as film-based talks and events. They also host film festivals that highlight the important work coming out from other countries and communities. This place is truly a cinephile’s dream.

Barn Cinema, Totnes
This cinema in Totnes, Devon, is truly one of the most unique in the country. Housed in a 15th century barn on the grounds of historic Dartington estate, the cinema contrasts new screen and sound technology with wood panelling and beams on the ceiling so that each visit to the cinema is a step back in time. As well as mainstream and independent films, they show a range of theatre, ballet and opera, from both London and New York.  In the summer you can also catch some outdoor films, making the most of the lovely Dartington grounds.
 
The Picture House Uckfield
This quirky little building on the high street in Uckfield East Sussex has been a cinema for a long time and has still stayed independent—even if the name does sound like a well-known chain! Originally opened for film screenings for the troops in 1916, it became an official cinema in 1920 and has been open full time ever since. Showing a range of new films, it also shows live performances from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House, so that you don’t have to head over to London to catch the latest plays. With a great café serving food, this is a popular spot for both those heading to the cinema and people simply looking for a bite.

Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham
The Midlands Arts Centre is an extremely popular multipurpose venue just outside Birmingham city centre. Since 1962, it has aimed to be a cultural hub, bringing together all sorts of events under one roof. Founded by local councillor Sir Frank Price with the specific aim of introducing young people to theatre, the Midlands Art Centre (or Mac for short) continues to run an impressive programme aimed at a diverse audience, but with a specific emphasis on arts education for children and young people. Their cinema is no exception: hosting a very varied cinema programme, including new releases, documentaries, art house films, and live theatre, there is something for everyone in this lively space. 

Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick
The Warwick Arts Centre is situated on the Coventry campus as part of the University of Warwick making this an important place for students and non-students alike. Opened in 1974 the centre has invited local and international artists to perform and show their work for over 40 years. The cinema is no exception and has a distinctly international feel; they show new and interesting work from across the world, as well as family films, documentaries and film talks. In 2017, the centre began substantial works to redevelop the building, improving the theatre and cinema and adding new teaching and learning spaces. These changes are set to make the building even more accessible, as well as looking forward to Coventry’s year as the UK City of Culture in 2021.
 
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