Indie Film Art Houses in Rio

By Anita Kirpalani, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Not exempt from what is happening to cinema globally, Brazil has experienced a wave of modern multiplexes often located in shopping malls and featuring large Hollywood and Brazilian mainstream films. Yet mega-million dollar blockbusters are not the sole option when it comes to movies in Rio. A few theaters, mainly located in the Zona Sul (South Zone), remain the torch-bearers of independent art films or, as they call it here, cinema de arte.

Espaço Botafogo

Espaço Botafogo, photo by courtesy of Espaço Botafogo.

The better known art houses are those of the Estação Group. With seven cinemas in Rio, they were born in the 1980s from the desire of a young group of cinema-buffs to watch and show movies that they liked, that is, cult, alternative movies outside of the commercial circuits.

The Estaçao Group is still owned by three of the pioneers, Marcelo Mendes, Nelson Krunholz and Ilda Santiago, but has now expanded to Ipanema (Estação Ipanema, Estação Laura Alvim), Barra (Estação BarraPoint), Gávea (Estação Vivo Gavea), Centro (Odeon Petrobras) and Botafogo (Espaço de cinema, Estação Botafogo), of course.

Other indie movies are to be found in the various Centro Culturais (cultural centers) of the city. The cinema Candido Mendes in Ipanema is part of the Centro cultural Candido Mendes affiliated to the eponym university and which was created in the 70s. Other centers, likes the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil or the Caixa Cultural offer thematic shows and classics for a very low price. The Caixa Cultural for example will be hosting, with the cinema Odeon Petrobras, Curta Cinema, Rio’s international short movies festival from October 28th to November 7th.

Cine Santa

Cine Santa, photo by Anita Kirpalani.

Rio also has even smaller cinemas hidden in the old parts of the city. The cinema Espaço Museu da Republica is a single-screened theater located in the peaceful garden of the Palacio do Catete, now home to the Museum of the Republic. It mainly shows foreign movies, like Little Nicholas, a 2009 French movie that is up this week.

There is also Cine Santa Teresa, which has no executive sponsor as such. It first started in 2003 as a social project with itinerant and occasional projections in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, at the local Anglican Church or restaurants. Eventually, the cinema found its premises in a concession of the Prefeitura (municipality). Oddly enough, for better or worse, the space was shared with a police station.

Following are some of the addresses of the above mentioned theaters:

  • Estação Botafogo – Rua Voluntários da Pátria, 88, Botafogo. Tel: (21) 2226 1988
  • Estação Ipanema – Rua Visconde de Pirajá 605, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. Tel: +55 21 2285 7314
  • Estação Laura Alvim – Avenida Vieira Souto, 176, Ipanema, 22420-000 Rio de Janeiro. Tel: +55 21 2267 1647
  • Odeon Petrobras – Pça. Floriano, 7, Cinelândia. Tel: (21) 2240 1093
  • Cinema Candido Mendes – Rua Joana Angelica, 63, Ipanema. Tel: (21) 2267 7295
  • Espaço Cinema Republica – Rua do Catete, 153, Catete. Tel: (21) 3826-7984
  • Cinema Santa Teresa – Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno, 136, Largo do Guimarães – Santa Teresa. Tel: (21) 2222 0203