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A Rainbow of Indie Theaters

One of New York’s most shining qualities is its diversity of small cinemas. Here, a selective guide for fans of every persuasion.

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Stadium seating at BAMcinématek.  

THE AVANT-NERD
IFC Center
(323 Sixth Ave., at W. 3rd St.; 212-924-7771)
Strengths: New facilities and a slate of avant-garde films; David Lynch organic coffee.
Drawbacks: Located on hectic and scuzzy Sixth Avenue.
The Don’t-Miss: Fay Grim, by Hal Hartley, opening May 18.

THE PURIST HISTORIAN
Museum of the Moving Image
(35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria; 718-784-0077)
Strengths: Silent films screened with live period music; exclusive first showings.
Drawbacks: No food inside theater; small (but a 2009 expansion is planned).
The Don’t-Miss: Kinetoscope demonstrations, daily at 12:30 and 3:30.

THE CRUSTY CINEPHILE
The Film Society of Lincoln Center
(70 Lincoln Center Plaza; 212-875-5600)
Strengths: International cinema; home to the New York Film Festival every fall.
Drawbacks: Institutional, auditorium-like theater.
The Don’t-Miss: Luchino Visconti’s White Nights, May 16.

THE ART-HOUSE ZEALOT
Film Forum
(209 W. Houston St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-727-8110)
Strengths: Smart film series; uncanny talent for premiering hits; delicious snacks like Jacques Torres chocolate and Illy espresso.
Drawbacks: Cramped theaters; holier-than-thou ticketers; notoriously uncomfortable seats (to be replaced this summer).
The Don’t-Miss: “Herzog (Non)Fiction”: A series of Werner Herzog documentaries, plus nine of his favorite docs, beginning May 18.

THE GOOFBALL
Two Boots Pioneer Theater
(155 E. 3rd St., nr. Ave. A; 212-591-0434)
Strengths: Campy, fearless sensibility yields B-list screenings and films by local unknowns.
Drawbacks: Tiny theater fills up fast; despite its affiliation, there’s no pizza allowed.
The Don’t-Miss: “Oydentity,” an evening of Jewish shorts, May 17.

THE ÜBER-SNOB
The Anthology Film Archives
(32 Second Ave., nr. 2nd St.; 212-505-5181)
Strengths: Avant-garde and conceptual films, such as those seen in the “Essential Cinema” series.
Drawbacks: Shabby digs; no Web ticketing; painfully earnest crowd.
The Don’t-Miss: The Magic Mirror by Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, May 25.

THE BUFF IN BROOKLYN
BAMCinématek at BAM Rose Cinemas
(30 Lafayette Ave., nr. Flatbush Ave.; 718-636-4100)
Strengths: Annual Sundance sampler; phenomenal kids’ programming; strong series of foreign classics; lovely facilities.
Drawbacks: Often scooped by Film Forum for coveted premieres.
The Don’t-Miss: “DanceAfrica Film,” highlights of the African Film Festival, beginning May 23.

THE LOWER EAST SIDE ARRIVISTE
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
(143 E. Houston St., nr. First Ave.; 212-330-8182)
Strengths: Multiplex-style waiting lounges; bathrooms on every floor; stadium seating; three great jumbo screens.
Drawbacks: Mobbed on weekends and evenings (Monday and Tuesday nights are quietest).
The Don’t-Miss: Midnight screening of The Muppets Take Manhattan, May 25.


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