Independent Cinemas in and around Manchester

Go See This contributor Shannon Taylor reminds us that we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by fantastic independent cinema venues.

Odeon, Vue and Cineworld; there’s one in every town and in the UK they dominate the cinema circuit. Because of this cinematic domination some people may not be fully aware that there are also independent cinemas all over the place. Some of these cinemas can offer alternative films and activities to those you’d see in the local big cinema chains. I have made a list of a handful of these independent cinemas in the North West area with an example of what kind of experiences they have to explore.

1. HOME  (2, Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN)
This is a favourite of mine. HOME used to be called The Cornerhouse Cinema but changed and remodelled in 2015 and now features a cool cafe/ bar and a well stocked bookshop. It has a relaxed and modern atmosphere that shows films and artwork from all over the world through themed festivals. HOME hosts a tonne of talks and Q&As with various directors, producers and writers. You name it and they’ve got it. If you are a film fan, then HOME should definitely be on your list of places to visit. Plus it is super easy to get to, HOME is literally across the street from Deansgate train station. Their next festival is called ¡Viva! and it showcases films from Spanish and Latin American countries and is extremely popular; it’s celebrating its 24th year this year! ¡Viva! Begins April 12th and runs till May 5th so go on down for some vibrant Latin film culture.

2. The Savoy Cinema (105 Heaton Moor Rd, Stockport SK4 4HY)
Heading over to Stockport now to The Savoy. It is independently owned and does show those exciting blockbuster films, however they do also show ballet, stage shows and even live satellite feeds of certain events. The big draw to this cinema is the lovely vintage decor. There is a large old fashioned presentation board on the front of the cinema with the name of a film proudly displayed on it in black letters. Inside The Savoy the vintage class continues with theatre style screen rooms with crushed velvet “luxury” seats and even two person sofas! Who hasn’t wanted to watch a film in the cinema from the comfort of a cosy sofa? The theatrical element of this cinema makes it worth the visit.

3. Curzon (Toft Rd, Knutsford WA16 0PE)
Okay so I’m cheating with this one a little as it is technically a chain however there are only 13 Curzon cinemas in the country. Similar to The Savoy the Curzon does show mainstream blockbusters but they also show a wide range of ballet, theatre, opera and documentaries. From looking through the event listings on their website it is clear to see that there really is something for everyone at this cinema. Coming up at Curzon Knutsford are titles such as Met Opera Live, National Theatre Live, Royal Shakespeare Company, an art exhibition and a documentary interview with Sir Ian McKellen. So as you can see it’s a real mixed bag of quality entertainment. There’s a little cafe on sight and one of those vintage cinema light boxes at the front of house which is always a nice touch.

4. FACT Picturehouse (88 Wood St, Liverpool L1 4DQ)
FACT is part of the Picturehouse chain of cinemas based in Liverpool. This one has got so much going on. FACT is much more than a movie theatre, they have loads of drop-in art exhibitions, interactive experiences, artist talks along with some popular blockbuster and anime films. Once again there’s something for everyone here, even the ones who don’t really like films. Instead of a cinema it’s more of a fully immersive centre for arts, films and media. After all, FACT does stand for Foundation for Art and Creative Technology and boy do they deliver on that. FACT is right in there in the heart of the city; only 3 minutes walk away from Liverpool central station so it’s really easy to reach for a completely different sort of trip to the cinema.

5. The Plaza Stockport (Mersey Square, Stockport SK1 1SP)
We’re back in Stockport for The Plaza: “Stockport’s super cinema and variety theatre”. The key word here is definitely variety as they also host many stage performances such as pantomimes, stand up routines and plays. Even the films they show are a real mixed bag including old classical Hollywood hits to recent Oscar nominated features. The Plaza seems to showcase a lot of British talent as some of the upcoming events include a double bill of films from Sir Alec Guinness and the always wonderful local lad, George Formby. There’s a lot to do and see at The Plaza including the indicative on site cafe which truthfully has a very well stocked menu, including dishes from jacket spuds to an assortment of afternoon teas. Because who doesn’t love an afternoon tea to wash down the popcorn after a classic film? The Plaza itself is over 85 years old and has a glorious art deco 30’s theme. With an age like that it only makes sense that there’s a very rich history that comes with it. There’s a lot written about the history of The Plaza on their website which makes for a rather engaging read. All the history and theming really adds the experience of visiting this special cinema.

There we have it. A taste of some of the independent cinemas in and around Manchester that offer something a little different from your average multiplex cinema chain. If films aren’t your thing then you can still indulge in the other arts at many of these cinemas with all the extra bits and bobs they have going on. So, film fan or not; these cinemas are well worth a trip to see.

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Title Image: Stockport Plaza