A Screen of One’s Own: Celebrating Artist-Run Cinemas Around the World

A Screen of One’s Own: Celebrating Artist-Run Cinemas Around the World

“We were just sort of a ragtag nomadic group.”

In the 1980s, Richard Linklater and friends began projecting movies around Austin. Their primary venues included the Dobie Theater and Laguna Gloria, and then they worked out a deal with a coffee shop “right on the main drag near the campus where we all were,” Linklater remembers. People could come see the movies in a space upstairs, and maybe they’d buy a coffee on the way too. The earliest programs reflected a voracious cinephilia right out of the gate, with Buñuel’s Un chien andalou, Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising, and the rarely shown Barbara Hammer short Multiple Orgasm appearing on an adventuresome experimental slate. Mini-retrospectives unleashed the works of Oshima, Godard, and Bresson, advertised with DIY flyers.

The screening series was the genesis of the Austin Film Society (AFS), which went on to screen premieres at the Paramount Theatre in the 1990s and later collaborated with Alamo Drafthouse before finding a permanent home by taking over and renovating the Marchesa in 2016. The AFS is a respected nonprofit and self-described “creative hub” founded by Linklater that shows repertory and first-run titles, and also fosters movie production through community programs, grants, and a production facility.

The AFS’s cinema belongs to the curious category of art-house theaters affiliated with a filmmaker or actor. There aren’t very many of them in the world, but they’re a special source of joy—a redoubled expression of love for the art form from people who know intimately what goes into making movies.

Top of page: the exterior of AFS Cinema, courtesy of the Austin Film Society; above: a flyer  advertising the Austin Film Society’s programming
The exterior of Écoles Cinéma Club
An advertisement for a program of musicals programmed by Tsai Ming-liang
The exterior of the Maysles Documentary Center

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