5 best indie cinemas in Asia

Cool spaces, unique films and a great way to meet like-minded locals … these cinemas offer an alternative night out on your next holiday.

  • Cheong Kamei
  • May 2019

Forget about watching a Marvel movie at any of these cinemas. But if you’re into alternative cinema and experiencing the local indie scene, these small screening rooms in Asia are right up your alley.

1. Spot – Taipei Film House

Spot organises film festivals throughout the year so be sure to look out for them.

Housed in a beautiful 1920s colonial style building that was once home to the U.S. ambassador, the 88-seater cinema curates obscure and unique films from all over the world. There’s also a shop with film-related merchandise, a sun-filled café and an outdoor garden courtyard, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself lingering way after the movie’s over.

2. Bangkok Screening Room

The line-up always includes at least one Thai filmmaker who gets a fair share of ticket sales.

This theatre might be small (it only has one screening room that seats 52 pax) but it has a state-of-the-art projector and sound system that’s comparable to mega-cinemas. The line-up changes every three weeks and you can expect indie films from around the world. Get there early so you have time to chill over a craft beer and some larb fries before the movie starts.

3. The Projector, Singapore

Leave time before and after the movie to hang out at The Projector’s café and bar, Intermission Bar.

Housed in a once-abandoned cinema from the ’70s, Singapore’s only arthouse cinema is all about creating a communal experience that can never be achieved from watching Netflix at home. That means an eclectic programme that includes screenings of cult classics like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Room, sing-along versions of Bohemian Rhapsody, movie trivia nights, and themed after-parties featuring local DJs and live bands.

4. Kinosaurus, Jakarta

Each screening accommodates no more than 30 people.

Tucked away behind Aksara, Kemang’s oldest bookstore, Kinosaurus is a great place to rub shoulders with the creative community in Jakarta. The films screened here are independent films from the Asian region and beyond. If you get there early, head to coffee brewing lab Ruang Seduh that’s located next to Kinosaurus — you can try your hand at making your own cup of coffee. Just tell the barista what you want, and he will guide you through the entire process.

5. Paradiso, Bali

Paradiso gives you all the feel-good vibes you’d expect from the spiritual and wellness centre of Bali.

In any other part of Indonesia, Paradiso might seem like a strange concept. But the world’s first vegan and raw food cinema is a perfect fit for Ubud. The cinema’s décor is casual (think comfy deckchairs and armchairs), the films screened are anything from documentaries to surf films, and the menu is unsurprisingly sourced from organic and sustainable farms.