By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One of the Cariocas’ favorite leisure activities is going to the movies in Rio and it doesn’t have to be crowded malls and Hollywood blockbusters. Spread across the city are a couple of great independent movie theaters, which offer a completely different cinema experience, including the latest releases from the Middle East, nice bookstores and good cafeterias.
Part of Rio’s history, Cine Odeon, in Centro, is the city’s oldest movie theater alive, founded in 1926. Situated in the area known as Cinelândia (Rio’s former “Land of Cinema”), the room is the very remaining symbol of Centro’s effervescent cinema culture, specially in the first half of the twentieth century.
Having been through a restoration process in 2014, Cine Odeon, today, offers the latest from audiovisual technology without discarding its original Art Déco aesthetics. In its 550 seat theater that includes a stage (remnant of a time when the film exhibition was accompanied by a piano), the audience can watch both mainstream and independent films, and eventually operas, ballets, panel discussions and film festivals.
“I really enjoy going to Odeon. It has a great line-up and localization, but it mainly stands out for its historical relevance,” says Nick Piesiewicz, Australian English teacher and expatriate in Rio for five years.
On a privileged spot at the Ipanema beach lies Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim, a cultural center that promotes a high standard agenda of scenic arts, music, visual arts and cinema. Only a few minutes away from General Osório metrô station, one can undoubtedly have a full cultural experience with Laura Alvim’s eventful line-up of plays, independent movies and pocket shows. Casa Laura Alvim also includes a nice outdoor lounge and a good bistro.
Not far from Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim is Cine Jóia, a small, cozy cinema in the middle of Copacabana. Everyday, the single room movie theater displays at least two different films – in general, independent productions from Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Located at the underground of one of Copa’s typical malls, Cine Jóia’s decoration and its predominantly elder audience takes one back to the 1970s.
Considered the very neighborhood of independent street movie theaters, Botafogo concentrates the three favorite alternative cinemas among Zona Sul residents: Estação NET Rio, Estação NET Botafogo and Espaço Itaú de Cinema. Located in the heart of Voluntários da Pátria street, at the side of Botafogo’s trendiest bars, Espaço Sesc Rio stands out for its great variety of movies (usually 13).
A few meters away from Estação Sesc Rio is Estação NET Botafogo, also at Rua Voluntários da Pátria. Despite being smaller than its neighbor, NET Botafogo is also proud to exhibit thirteen films in three rooms, everyday.
Situated at the Praia de Botafogo, Espaço Itaú de Cinema attracts an audience that looks for a more sophisticated cinema experience. Presenting a clean, minimalist architecture, the complex includes a cafe, a bistro and a nice bookstore, where one can easily lose track of time among its arts’ and cinema’s books.
Finally, Santa Teresa, one of Rio’s most artistic neighborhoods, also owns its alternative indie cinema, Cine Santa, located at Largo dos Guimarães. Surrounded by the best Santa can offer, like bars, restaurants, handicraft stores and cultural centers, the single room cinema stands out for its cheap tickets. It usually screens two movies per day.