7 Groups Spreading The Love For Independent Cinema

Over the years, independent cinema has grown significantly in prominence thanks to the rise of film societies, festivals, and arthouse theaters around the world. Whether you're seeking a showcase of LGBTQ-themed movies, or looking for special events that offer film and food pairings, consider the organizations listed here in no particular order.

Starting with #1 is Reel Q, which began in 1982 as the Pittsburgh Lesbian & Gay Film Series. Its mission is to showcase independent LGBTQ cinema that's largely inaccessible to mainstream audiences. Reel Q is held during October each year, and provides a variety of programs, panels, parties, and community activities.

Contributing to the cultural vitality of Pittsburgh, the group works to support and provide a platform for LGBTQ artists, and to foster international perspectives within the community. Beyond the festival, the organization runs year-round events including the Reel Stories and Reel Youth series. It also facilitates meet-and-greets, artist markets, and partnered community events every month.

Next, at #2 we have the Cinema Arts Centre, or CAC, which operates with the mission of bringing the best in film artistry to Long Island, New York. Founded in 1973, the CAC has grown to become a state-of-the-art theater, with digital and 35mm projection capability, three main auditoriums, and a big screen in the Sky Room Cafe.

The CAC offers Film Arts in Education screenings for schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The organization seeks to expose students in Long Island to the languages and cultures of other countries, provide opportunities to see and hear dramatizations of great literary works, and to explore visions of both history and contemporary society.

Coming in at #3 is Metro Cinema. A community-based not-for-profit society, it's devoted to fostering diverse and unique shared viewing experiences in Edmonton, Canada. Metro Cinema programs an eclectic blend of film and media arts by presenting educational, independent, cultural, and innovative works.

The society provides opportunities for the public to curate programming, and partners with community groups to host film festivals and special events. Metro Cinema operates with the ongoing assistance of a large volunteer base, keeping cinematic experiences as affordable as possible for its patrons.

At #4 we have the Austin Film Society, or AFS. Founded in 1985 by director Richard Linklater, AFS creates opportunities for independent filmmakers, catalyzes Austin and Texas as creative hubs, and brings the community together around great cinema. The Society strives to assist filmmakers toward career leaps, encouraging exceptional artistic projects with grants and support services.

AFS operates Austin Studios, a 20-acre production facility, to attract and grow the local creative media ecosystem. There's also Austin Public, a studio for the city's diverse media-makers to train and collaborate. The space is inclusive and content-neutral, offering low- and no-cost training, equipment, facilities, and content distribution services to the community.

In the #5 spot is the New Orleans Film Society, which discovers, cultivates, and amplifies the multitudinous voices of contemporary filmmakers. The Society produces the New Orleans Film Festival, one of the few festivals that is Oscar-qualifying in all three Academy-accredited categories.

In addition, the Society empowers creators through Emerging Voices, a nationally recognized mentorship program for filmmakers of color, as well as through other initiatives such as the Southern Producers Lab and the annual South Pitch competition. Beyond the New Orleans Film Festival, the Society works to build a vibrant cinema culture in the South by producing a mix of public and members-only year-round events.

Arriving at #6 is MSP Film Society, a non-profit exhibition organization that seeks to bring the best of international and independent cinema to Minnesota audiences. The Society's mission is to foster a knowledgeable and vibrant appreciation of the art of film and its power to inform and transform individuals and communities.

MSP is best known for the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. Presented every April, the Festival is the largest international arts event in the region, exhibiting hundreds of films from countries all over the world each year, and drawing growing audiences. The Society also hosts the annual Cine Latino, a showcase of the best new works by artists from US Latino, Latin American, and Iberian communities.

Finally, for #7 we find O Cinema, an independent, community-based non-profit arthouse cinema in Miami-Dade County, featuring first-run movies, programs, and events. Its mission is to provide intriguing, entertaining, and superior quality films that audiences might not otherwise see in South Florida.

Aside from a regular schedule of revolving new works, O Cinema produces special themed programming in order to explore important contemporary topics. One such program, Art Films, exhibits the best of cinema by and about artists, and pairs each screening with food and mimosas, followed by a post-film discussion with the creators.