The Washington D.C. area has a number of independent and art film-oriented theater venues on hand, but none are so famous as the American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. Located in Downtown Silver Spring at the intersection of Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue (found here on Yahoo! Maps), the theater is just inside the I-475 Beltway, north of D.C. and is just blocks away from the District.
The majority of films shown at the theater are classics, independent films, documentaries, and films that aren’t commonly seen elsewhere. It hosts the annual Silverdocs documentary festival with the Discovery Channel, also based in Silver Spring, and often runs genre and theme-oriented film series events.
This original, historic theater was built in 1938 and designed by movie palace architect John Eberson. It was deliberately vandalized by owners in 1984, but Silver Spring residents rallied to stop demolition and manged to get the building added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
The theater complex has been restored for modern needs, and houses two stadium theaters seating 400 and 200 people and a smaller 75 seat theater as well as exhibit areas, offices, meeting areas, and a reception area. The new space represents 32,000 square feet of construction.
The 2003 reopening of the theater after the rehabilitation was a gala event showing the restored film, ” The Oxbow Incident .” The theater interior immediately transports audiences to the era in which some films shown here in the past, such as ” The Thin Man “, were originally shown. All of the theaters, including a conference room, are available to rent.
October and November Films
Among the classics that played or are playing in the theater in October and November include ” Casablanca “, ” The Big Lebowski “, and ” Vertigo “. For Halloween, expect to see horror films like ” Nosferatu ” (with live musical accompaniment), ” Shaun of the Dead “, and everyone’s favorite zombie classic ” Dawn of the Dead” . The controversial, silent film ” Salome ” will also play October 29th with live musical accompaniment.
Films you won’t see as much in chain theaters but with a longer run here are the documentary ” Waiting for Superman ” and ” Never Let Me Go “, starring Keira Knightley.
The theater includes a number of series that ran over the summer, including a 1980’s tribute, an Akira Kurosaw and Francois Truffaut retrospective, Charlie Chaplin classics, a Mid-Atlantic regional showcase, and a nod to nearby Bethesda’s major employer, the National Institutes of Health.
Eat In the Theater, Save Money
The cafe isn’t unreasonably priced, either, with free refills on a large popcorn and soda combo. You can buy domestic and imported beers, wine, candy, chai drinks, a personal pizza, hot dogs, flavored Icees, or even David Lynch Coffee, presumably for when you feel a nice broody cup of Joe will go best with a visually striking and surrealist film festival. All drinks can be taken into the theaters.