Many large cities have a few of them, and every medium size town has at least one, they are independent theaters.  Independent theaters are just that, independent.  They are not a part of a chain of theaters like American Multi-Cinema (AMC) or Cinemark or even the Arizona favorite, Harkins Theatres.  Tucson has all of these theaters scattered throughout the area; however, Tucson has what no other town has, The Loft Cinema.  If you are more of a cerebral person or have tastes that are less common with the general masses, then The Loft Cinema in Tucson Arizona, with two screening rooms is your stomping grounds.  Located on Speedway Boulevard, not far from the University of Arizona (UofA), the Loft Cinema is a haven for filmgoers.

Independent and Non-Profit

Not only is an independent theater, the Loft Cinema, also a nonprofit organization that enables filmmakers to display their art in the way the directors want it shown.  Unhampered by large corporate studios, The Loft Cinema relies on community support.  The building, located at 3233 East Speedway Boulevard, was turned into a nonprofit cinema house in 2002.  The Loft features foreign and independent filmmakers from all over the world.  On November 25, 2008 announced, “Sundance Institute Expands Collaboration with Local Art House Cinemas Nationwide,” which is, “a partnership with art house cinemas nationwide to build audiences and develop a supportive community of theatre owners committed to independent film.”  The Sundance goes on to list 18 independent theaters including Tucson’s own Loft Cinema with in their ranks.  The Tucson Weekly, Tucson’s own independent newspaper, listed The Loft Cinema as “The Best Theater,” in Tucson since the theater’s re-opening in 2002.

Genre Films

Catering to aficionados of genre films and TV shows, The Loft played host to fans of the television series final episode on Sunday May 24, airing the final show for free and included trivia games and giveaways.  Also, catering to foreign film buffs the in July the Loft will be featuring Luca Guadagnino’s Italian language film I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton.  For fans of the horror film genre, the Loft is the one of the few places where you can see director George A. Romero’s Survival Of The Dead, and if you like both horror and foreign films you can now watch films like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo from Danish director Niels Arden Oplev.  Allowing the filmmaker and the public to come together not only through the medium of film, The Loft presents opportunities for directors to meet his audiences allowing both to come together at once.  Once such example is an event where actor and director Michael Paul Stephenson of the film, “Best Worst Movie,” shows the journey of the film Troll 2’s status as the worst movie ever made to a cult classic.  Film revivals are The Loft’s specialty, with brand new 35mm prints of Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s Hausu (House) from 1977.  Although “Bad Movies” are not a genre it self, people come to see Mondo Mondays where the fans of “bad” movies get a chance to see this cinematic mishaps for a discounted price of course.

Film Festivals

Featuring various film festivals throughout the year,  the upcoming Tucson International Children’s Film Festival features nine days of films for kids, like the 1968 adaptation of Ian Fleming’s children’s book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or Jim Henson’s The Muppets Take Manhattan from 1984.  The Loft Cinema hosts the Loft Film Fest coming in November.  This is the first year of the festival, and the cinema is taking entries for this eight-day event.  Selected, as honorary chairpersons of this event, are writers Larry McMurty and Diana Osama noted for the screenplay adaptation of Brokeback Mountain, to kick off the festival.  Pamela Marvin will be highlighting her late husband’s westerns like the Cat Ballou from 1965 starring Lee Marvin and Jane Fonda, and his war films like The Dirty Dozen and The Big Red One, (Lee Marvin lived in Tucson since 1975 until his death in 1987).

Arizona Supported

In a press release dated August 26, 2009 from the Arizona Council on the Arts ( the websites reports that, “Arts Commission Announces $2,238,052 in Statewide Grant Awards for Fiscal Year 2009-2010.”  Although the Arts Commission lost 42% of their budget, they are still planning to work with each the communities to foster the growth of the local art programs and the site lists that the Loft Cinema, Inc., in Tucson, will receive $19,428, in general operating support.  Concession prices are the same as a chain theater where a soda goes from $3 to $4.50 for a small to large drink, and a bag of popcorn going for $3.75 for a small bag to $5.25 for a large bag.  What you cannot get at a theater chain is beer, yes The Loft sells beer and wine to its patrons 21 years or older.  Ticket prices are the same as going to a chain theater ranging from $6 for a matinee showing to $8 for an evening showing.  Supporters of the cinema can join as a member of The Loft for a yearly fee of $75 and gives you an additional discount on movie tickets along with other incentives.  Like other nonprofit, you can donate your car to help support The Loft cinema.

The Atmosphere

Going to events and films at The Loft Cinema, is like going over to an old friend’s house, and enjoying a film with him.  The difference between The Loft and other theaters is the atmosphere.  At The Loft, people do not just watch the films; they come to interact with the films.  Audiences like to comment, loudly about what is happening, or they answer back to the actors, as fans of the Rocky Horror Picture Show have been known to do.  At a recent screening of an opening film, the audience was loud, but not rude, shouting or singing along with the actors on screen.  The seats are comfortable, and the 50-foot screen is easy to see.  The current building on Speedway is not The Loft’s first location.  Originally located closer to the university, The Loft’s owner moved the cinema to the Speedway location in 1990 and did well there until it was converted into a nonprofit organization in 2002.  Shining as a beacon of independence The Loft stands as a symbol to all in the Tucson area of individuality that the Tucson Art Community strives for.


by Robert Barbere on 2010/06/05