By Diego Olivares
The Downtown Independent is a prime example of art-house cinemas in Los Angeles.
This is a place where people who are passionate about cinema can go and experience. It is a reminder of once popular art-house cinemas, something that is slowly passing by like a memory.
Many years prior, while blockbuster movies began dominating theaters, more non-traditional films were having their screenings in more small theaters known as art-house cinemas.
Art-house theaters were known for featuring an alternative to what Hollywood films had to offer. The films screened at these theaters were known as “independent art films.”
These films were made for very little money, usually without any help from Hollywood.
They have few to no movie stars, lack a conventional storyline and examined weird, yet realistic subject matter.
For many years, art-house theaters played in many selected parts across America, mostly New York City and Los Angeles.
While these theaters and films never really got embraced by the general public, they were able to find an audience in the niche market.
In recent years, advancement in technology has endangered art-house theaters.
In these days of digital downloading and sites like Netflix, it becomes very easy to watch all kinds of movies including independent art films.
This has cause many art-house theaters not to be around anymore. Few are hard to find in Los Angeles. The most popular being the New Beverly located on La Brea.
Located near downtown Los Angeles, the Downtown Independent showcases these art films for audiences interested in seeing them.
The theater used to be known as the Arrow Theatre. The Arrow Theater first opened its door for Southern California audiences back in 1925.
“It used to be called the Linda Lea Theater (in February 1945)” says Bri Frazier, a manager projectionist at the Independent.
“This only is as it is, before that, it was a theater showing Japanese films.” Says Frazier.
The Linda Lea Theater ran until 1985, when it closed its doors to the public.
It wasn’t until 2007 that the Downtown Independent was born.
Construction for the Downtown Independent started in April, 2007. The converting of design of the Linda Lea Theater to that of the Downtown Independent was a task in itself.
The look of the theater is a steel-cube shaped, covered in a sleek glass design.
The theatre also houses 222 stadium seats, as well as 16 reclining sofa seats. In addition, the theatre also has space for live performances and a nice rooftop that allows for wonderful views of downtown Los Angeles.
The Downtown Independent soon opened its doors for a new generation on December 1, 2007.
The Downtown Independent offers many different kinds of art films.
This ranges from ‘90s cinema, cult classics and import cinema. The theater also holds midnight screenings for audiences.
For many filmmakers who make low-budget films, they find it hard not just making their films, but finding distributors them as well. Many distributors in Hollywood tend to handle mostly Hollywood blockbusters.
The Downtown Independent offers filmmakers the chance to rent the theater for public screenings. This is something very useful for filmmakers struggling to get their films shown.
“It’s definitely more inspiring to see people be more resourceful,” Main Manager Gustavo Aldana, who has a background in film studies, said.
The theater uses mainly digital projection to screen their films. Yet, for their midnight screening, the theater uses classical 35mm film prints.
The theater also shows recorded acting theatre from across the country.
The Downtown Independent is a unique art-house theater that continues to keep the memory of art-house cinemas alive.
It gives independent filmmakers a chance to screen their works of passion, all the while keeping to that art film spirit; the spirit of thinking outside the box.
The Downtown Independent is located on 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles.