Ah the silver screen! Romance, drama, comedy, horror, sci-fi - we've all got different tastes. Some of us like watching movies at home, curled up on the sofa with loved ones, or on our own, becoming absorbed in a world away from ourselves, that's cool, we understand. A lot of us though, we love going to the cinema to see films in a special setting, and to make an evening of it. What do independent cinemas have over, say, Odeons? Let's just tell it straight - character. These places are unique on the inside and out, and if you're going on a date, then surely it's better to go somewhere a little different, rather than the flat-pack, business park cinemas littered all over the country. Anyway, we thought it would be nice to compile a list of the 10 independent cinemas in South London. Before you moan at us for not including Picturehouse, they're owned by Cineworld and have been since 2012, so they're no longer independent in our eyes.
South Social Film Festival
Based at The Cinema Museum, in Elephant & Castle, a hidden gem of an independent cinema where Charlie Chaplin used to work, the South Social Film Festival is 'an immersive movie, music & dining experience celebrating independent world cinema.' Launched in 2015, they dedicate every event to a different country, which attempts to celebrate diversity through art, cinema, world music and food. The pop-up works as a monthly residency, and each event is entirely different from the last one giving them a huge scope of films, art, music and food to pick from. Check out what's on next here.
Curzon Goldsmiths, New Cross
Curzon Goldsmiths is a pretty new and pretty fresh cinema, in that it is a collaboration between the Curzon Cinema Group and Goldsmiths University. That doesn't mean that it's only for use by Goldsmiths' students, no, it's open to all and is set to provide a stellar cinematic experience for all the residents of New Cross. This experience will be made better if you bring your South London Club Card and get £2 of all tickets!
What more can be said about the Peckhamplex than to simply say it's called the Peckhamplex. Okay, a little more can be said. The Peckhamplex is a truly legendary institution not just for its name, its atmosphere, its prices (£4.99 a ticket), its decor, but because it is the only independent multiplex cinema in all of London. There are, however, fears that the Peckhamplex's time on this Earth is limited as, naturally, property developers want to knock down the multi-storey car park that house both it and Frank's Cafe. Obviously everyone will still want to go to Peckham when all the things that make it interesting are bulldozed to be replaced by houses that no one from Peckham can afford. Hooray for profits!
Curzon Mondrian, Borough
South London is pretty lucky that Curzon have taken such an interest in the area, and put not one, but two, of their cinemas in this much better half of London. When we were talking about setting before, Curzon Mondrian was one of the places we had in mind. Housed inside the famed Sea Containers building, and styled and furnished by iconic British designer Tom Dixon, this is more than just a cinema, this is the perfect cinema. What's even better is that your South London Club Card gets you £2 off - just email us through here.
Shortwave Cinema, Bermondsey
This 52-seat independent cinema and cafe has been charming the residents of Bermondsey since it opened in 2009, and it's about time you got down there as well. Screening both mainstream and art-house films, Shortwave has built a very strong reputation as a great place to both watch a single film, and attend the many film festivals that they host throughout the year.
Roxy Bar & Screen, Borough
The Roxy Bar & Screen does two things particularly well with its screen - show films and show football. Now, obviously, one expects independent cinemas to be more about showing films, and Roxy does show films, and hosts lots of quirky little festivals like the upcoming NY Portugal Short Film Festival. However, it's also a very interesting place to watch football because of the fact that it has both a bar, and its very large screen. Anyway, if you like doing either of those things the Roxy Bar & Screen could definitely be the place for you.
The David Lean Cinema, Croydon
Housed inside the very beautiful Croydon Clocktower, we've got a very, very soft spot for The David Lean Cinema. Having initially screened films from 1995 to April 2011, the Cinema was closed from December 2011 to January 2014, as part of major arts-related cuts by Croydon Council. However, as a result of the successful Save The David Lean Cinema Campaign, it reopened and has continued screening films. Largely volunteer-driven, the cinema shows a variety of new and old films, and is named after director David Lean, who was born in Croydon.
Deptford Cinema, Deptford
Another cinema that we've got a very soft spot for, Deptford Cinema is a not-for-profit community led project that has aimed to go against the rising cost of going to the cinema, and make good-quality cinema more accessible for the denizens of Deptford and South London. Despite being only three years old, Deptford Cinema is the oldest operating cinema in Lewisham. Run by volunteers, anyone and everyone is welcome to attend the films, or even get involved with the running of the cinema.
Whirled Cinema, Loughborough Junction
Whirled Cinema is one of the best uses of a railway arch we've ever seen, and we've seen a lot of uses for railway arches. This members cinema is not quite the perfect spot for a date night, well, only if you are a member, but it is certainly well worth investing in one of those memberships. Situated in the little-known, but oft-travelled-through area of Loughborough Junction, Whirled Cinema is one of South London's best-kept secrets, and a membership there could be a perfect gift for a film-lover you know.
BFI Southbank, SE1
Some of you might be surprised to see BFI Southbank on this list, amongst the small-time cinemas of South London. After all, it's a pretty major deal BFI Southbank and is, frankly, on a different level to the others on this list - it's world-famous. However, it is still an independent, and we'll be damned if it doesn't get the recognition it deserves as one of the independent cinemas of South London. Moreover, it's a wonderful example as to what an independent can be - it doesn't have to be small - independents can be major operations, and we should be glad that the Southbank retains its independence.
Backyard Cinema, Newington
Having started in its founder's back garden, the suitably named Backyard Cinema is now one of London’s most sought after alternative cinema experiences. They use themed settings to make their cinema completely different to all the others. Their current theme is Miami Beach, so expect sand, piña coladas, and maybe lengthy stays in the rain (get inside you sillybilly). With a great selection of classics being screened in this wonderful setting, this is certainly an experience set apart from the rest.
what is the south London Club Card?
The South London Club is a local discount card to help support small independent businesses across South London whilst saving all who live, work & play in South London money! With over 500+ local discounts to choose from, you will discover & explore all the best hidden gems in South London. Join over 5,000 of us & celebrate all that's independent & South London