Good places to see some good filmsPicking the movie theater that's right for you is nearly as important as picking the right movie. High-back love seats and a wide variety of soft drinks are nice sometimes, but not for every visit to the local cinema. In a city that plays the same blockbusters in every multiplex theater, discerning filmgoers have few places to satisfy their artistic urges.
Luckily there are several alternative cinemas in Seoul where a visitor can find something a little more soothing than "Queen of the He Devils" or "Star Wars: Episode 12 -- The End of the Beginning." Here are some art houses.
A theater in the Hongik University area, this place was originally built as a playhouse, but recently was turned into a modest cinema. Run by the filmmaker Choo Sang-rok to commemorate his late father, Choo Song-woong, a great mime actor, the place often hosts film workshops. Until Aug. 8 the cinema is screening black-and-white horror classics, such as "Frankenstein," "The Little Shop of Horrors," "Night of the Living Dead," "Phantom of the Opera" and "White Zombie." Call 02-325-5574 for the schedule.
One of the largest film archives in Korea that stocks local and foreign films you cannot find elsewhere, Cinematheque Cinephile was once known as a nonprofit institute that played banned and censored films. Since 1991, the institute has produced hundreds of cult movie fans and published film-related materials. Currently, it is holding "Films With Themes," a series of films that deals with the seasons, such as Woody Allen's "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" and Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." For more information, call 02-595-6002.
Seoul Art Cinema Cinematheque
Located inside the ArtSonje Gallery, this modern arthouse offers about 200 seats. The Cinematheque hosts academic symposiums and cultural events, and is often a casual hangout for local film studies majors. Starting July 20, the Cinematheque hosts a retrospectives of the German filmmaker Werner Herzog. Artsonje can be reached at 02-733-8945.
Seoul Animation Center
Built exclusively to hold animation-related events, the Seoul Animation Center on Mount Namsan will screen a Canadian animation festival in August. 02-3455-8484
Opened in Gwanghwamun by Lee Gwang-su, the maker of "Spring in My Hometown," Cinecube shows a mix of popular films and foreign alternative films. Also, as a distributor of Baekdu Daegan, bringing in avant garde European films, Cinecube often holds modest film festivals. Call 02-2002-7770 for information.
Located inside the Dongsung Arts Center, Hypertech Nada plays foreign experimental art films all year round, including black-and-white classics that have long been banned in Korea, only to be released years later. Currently the theater is showcasing "Ghost World" and "The Man Who Wasn't There." For more information, contact 02-3672-0181.
by Park Soo-mee