Melbourne is a fantastic city to be in if you’re a cinephile. With film festivals coming in one after the other all year round, you’re really not short of accessing new and exciting films from around the world while living here.
But aside from the festivals, where can you go to get your fill of the very best in cinematic programming from around the world? Which cinemas in Melbourne showcase a diverse range of films, old and new, and why should you visit them? We did the investigation for you!
The Astor Theatre
One of the country’s most decorated cinemas is the prestigious Astor Theatre. With its old-fashioned charm, this single-screen cinema specialises in showcasing classic and contemporary films on the regular. The cinema itself is huge, capable of seating 1150 audiences at once, and features state-of-the-art sound inside the gorgeous building.
The theatre is committed to showing films in their original prints (for purists, you can catch 70mm screenings of films like newer films like The Master, The Hateful Eight and Dunkirk) and has screened big picture classics like Psycho, Picnic at Hanging Rock and more. The Astor Theatre is also known for its huge marathons (they’ve hosted marathons of The Lord of the Rings series, The Fast and the Furious series and the Harry Potter series) and for the young and young at heart, the Astor is known to program classic Disney films in their original prints too.
Most of its programming is American (that includes new films like Wonder Woman or older films like The Seven Year Itch) but they also, from time to time, show films from around the world like the Turkish documentary, Kedi, which is about the stray cats of Istanbul.
Ticketing is generally cheap at The Astor Theatre (a given with films that are considered ‘older’ than what’s screening in cinemas currently) so don’t miss out on seeing a classic at one of Melbourne’s finest film establishments.
ACMI (or the Australian Centre for the Moving Image) is Australia’s national museum for film, video games, digital culture and art, situated at the heart of Melbourne in Federation Square.
While ACMI is known for its great exhibitions, it’s also worth noting that ACMI regularly screens cinema from around the world too! The centre often serves as a venue host for a variety of film festivals including the Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) and the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) and every Wednesday, ACMI also screens selections of classic cinema programmed by the Melbourne Cinematheque.
As for films that ACMI’s own in-house programming team plan for centre visitors, expect films such as Cambodian documentary The Missing Picture and award-winning Brazilian picture Aquarius at ACMI.
Once you’re done watching a film at ACMI, take some time to browse through its lovely store and have a chat with friends over what you just saw at the centre’s cafe too.
Cinema Nova is one of the best independent cinemas in Australia. The purple palace, as its affectionately known, is located inside Lygon Court at Lygon St, Carlton. For students of the University of Melbourne and RMIT this shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
The cinema’s programming is vast. With a whopping 16 cinemas at its location, you can bet that there isn’t a shortage of choices of what to watch. Their programming might not include huge Hollywood blockbusters, although the occasional film may make its way through there if it has enough ‘prestige’ behind it (think Baby Driver directed by Edgar Wright or Alien: Covenant directed by Ridley Scott), but instead features a large array of independent films from America as well as a healthy sampling of cinema from around the world.
You may also be surprised by the length in which films screen at Cinema Nova too. Where some cinemas screen films for up to two months, Cinema Nova’s seasons may last up to four or more!
Other than the cinematic experience at Nova, their bar and kitchen is well worth visiting if you fancy a cheeky craft beer or some fine treats. But we think the best part about Cinema Nova are its choc-tops, ice-cream cones with a chocolate coating on top, which are all home-made and come in unique flavours like Strawberry Yogurt and White Chocolate and Chilli Choc!