Film is an art that has the power to educate, delight, anger, inform, depress and much more, within the span of a few hours or less. This power can be used to make massive profits or to make something truly inspiring, without concern of monetary gain. There are theaters that cater to one or the other, and some to both. These independent theaters run on a dedication to film, whether it’s high brow or low brow. 

(credit: AFI Silver Theatre/Facebook)

AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center
8633 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 495-6720

Restored from the historic Silver Theatre, the American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center is a shining beacon in downtown Silver Spring; calling all film lovers to its doors. The center is a celebration and education of history, of and through film. Its annual Silver Docs festival, a partnership with the Discovery Channel, is one of the most highly-anticipated film festivals every year. It brings amazing documentaries from around the world to DC’s backyard. With great programming like Silver Docs, along with “filmmaker interviews, panels, discussions, musical performances, and other events,” AFI continues to bring quality entertainment to the DC area. It is not often that you can watch a silent film with a corresponding live band.


West End Cinema
2301 M St NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 419-3456

You know those movies, foreign and domestic, that you’ve never heard of who win Oscars? Well, your friend who has heard of them probably saw them here. In the few short years that the West End Cinema has been around, it is quickly becoming DC’s number one theater to watch indie movies. Designed specifically to showcase “art house” and “off the beaten path” films, the theater tries to show films that “offer new intellectual and cultural perspectives.” Forgo seeing that summer blockbuster for a fifth time and instead catch a little-known art house film at this remarkable theater.

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Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse
2903 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204
(703) 486-2345

Equipped with a full restaurant and lounge, this cinema is more than your typical movie theater. It is clearly trying to make sure the audience has fun while watching movies. From sing-alongs, live comedy, screenings and theme nights like Wine Night, Arlington Cinema provides a unique movie-going experience. It even incorporates the audience into the process by taking votes on what movies should be played. It’s not a guarantee that the movie with the most votes will win, but it’s nice to feel like your opinion matters. And for those of you who don’t like watching movies with rowdy teens or screaming babies, it is 21 and over after 9 p.m.

(credit: Avalon Theatre/Facebook)

Avalon Theatre
5612 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20015
(202) 966-6000

In 2001, the Avalon Theatre became yet another DC movie theater to close its doors. But the Chevy Chase community refused to let it die, and thank goodness for those efforts. The Avalon Theatre is a vision of what movie theaters used to be, when seeing a movie was a luxury. A luxury more people can afford now but less are appreciating, the theater aspires to bring exciting cinema to all those who seek it. As well as events for seniors and families, there are monthly events for French, Czech, Israeli and Greek cinema. On top of that, it also shows new mainstream releases. Support history with a visit to this little independent theater.

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Folashade Oyegbola is a freelance writer covering all things D.C. Her work can be found on