Traditionally, independent films are created with little to no start-up financing from major movie studios, and are produced and distributed by independent companies as well. Although starting with smaller budgets and less distribution, many independent films today feature big-name stars who are lured by the more personal stories and visions of the filmmaker. Check out these theaters to find independent films in the Sacramento area.
Crest Theatre
1013 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 442-5189

This elegant art deco-style theater presents documentaries, art films and other independent movies, as well as live concerts and other special productions. Crest is home to numerous private screenings, receptions, fundraisers and local film events. One such event is the The Wild and Scenic Film Festival, the largest environmental film fest in North America, which raises funds for Habitat2020’s California Heartland Project. Other indie film festivals at Crest have included those for Sac Film and Music, collections of French, Jewish and Japanese films, A Place Called Sacramento and the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Since some indie moviemakers revel in all things quirky, the Crest is happy to host the Trash Film Orgy as well.

The Colonial Theatre
3522 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95820
(916) 769-2309

With cool, eclectic décor and a selection of film and music events, this small family-owned theater belongs in the big time. During the Sacramento Horror Film Festival, The Colonial showed the cult hit and ultimate indie “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” as well as lesser-known shorts and features including “Operation Thriller MJ,” “Out There” and the devilishly creepy “Lonely Hearts.” Fans of the artist known once again as Prince will love the upcoming event featuring live music and the film “Purple Rain,” and the theater will host the next Colonial Music Fest, featuring more than 60 bands and other musical acts.

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Tower Theater
2508 Land Park Dr.
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 442-4700

The featured films at Tower are often most popular with more mature audiences, although the recent “Muppets Most Wanted” attracted an audience of all groups. Local students, be they teens, collegians or trade-schoolers, get discount tickets and flock there on Student Mondays for free popcorn. Recent showings included the fast-paced, quirky “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Mozart: Don Giovanni” by the Royal Opera House and the aforementioned Muppet puppets. An atheist philosophy teacher is a focal point in “God’s Not Dead” and “The Railway Man” is an autobiographical film about a WWII soldier in a POW camp in Singapore. Tower has also shown “The Lunchbox,” a subtitled Hindi film, which was an official selection from Critic Week at Cannes.

The Guild Theater
2828 35th St.
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 842-4906

The Guild is a perfect fit for indie films; it is not vast like mainstream mega-multiplex theaters, nothing is spent on frills and the focus is on understanding and developing a local microcosm of humanity. Guild is operated through St. Hope Academy, a nonprofit organization seeking to encourage economic growth, education and civic leadership in inner-city areas. The indie “Supremacy,” about a white supremacist parolee, has been shown at Guild, and during the Sacramento Food Festival, the theater screened films including “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” For a truly fascinating experience, visit Guild during the Found Footage Festival.

Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center
985 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA 95603
(530) 885-0156

In addition to live performances and other events, this Auburn playhouse screens unique independent films such as award-winning director Morgan Neville’s “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” the true story of backup singers for some of the 21st century’s greatest musicians. Crafters and other artisans appreciate free showings of films like “Grandmother’s Prayer” about Julia Parker and some movie screenings include the opportunity to meet and visit with the filmmakers. A monthly documentary film series recently kicked off with the biography “Good Ol’ Freda,” about secretary to the Beatles Freda Kelly.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
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