Originally appeared on the New York Times website as a 2016 Student Review winner.
Hipsters, college kids and seasoned New Yorkers huddle nightly outside of Manhattan’s IFC Center, an independent cinema, located on Avenue of the Americas near West 3rd Street. A retro-style black and red marquee resides above the single box office. “Now Showing” posters line the IFC Center’s exterior and exhibit the eclectic assortment of international, experimental, documentary and classic films shown at the iconic Greenwich Village theater.
Once a Dutch Reform Church in 1831, later a second-run film house known as the Waverly Theater in 1937, the IFC Center was birthed in 2005 with a screening of “Me and You and Everyone We Know.” Though modernized and commercialized, the community feel of the multiplex thrives. Cinephiles from all walks of life continue to come together and admire the art of the moving image.
On a cold November evening, a diverse crowd waited in line at the box office. I stood in the queue, the illuminated Empire State Building glistening from a distance in my peripherals, amused by a handwritten sign in the IFC’s window proclaiming “[their] shirts go to 11!” (alluding to Reiner’s “This Is Spinal Tap”). Craving a rockumentary, I purchased a ticket to “Gimme Danger.”
The aroma of cigarettes from the street dominated until I opened the theater’s door — a total immersion into buttery, fresh, hot popcorn. After handing an usher my ticket for entry, my body involuntarily waltzed over to the snack stand.
Despite the IFC’s expansive menu, adorned with organic popcorn, hot teas, Jacque Torres chocolate treats, Melt ice cream sandwiches, and Popsicles from a local favorite, Popbar, I opted for traditional Sour Patch Kids.
The concession vendor was quaint, but kitschy and trendy, nonetheless. A vintage popcorn maker sat behind the clerk, featuring golden kernels exploding on-site.
Theater 3, where “Gimme Danger” screened, was smaller than average, but allowed for a more intimate experience. The leather seats that stippled the theater were plush, buoyant, wide and cloudlike.
The lights dimmed and an IFC-sponsored message enveloped the screen: “No texting, no smoking, no talking,” it started; “No clowns,” it continued with other quirky choices; “No bad movies,” it ended.
Trailers followed. No two genres were alike.
Finally, Iggy and The Stooges appeared on screen, and I knew that “Gimme Danger” had begun.
The film, being a cinematographically inspiring Jarmusch documentary, I would definitely recommend. I would also encourage others to take a journey to the IFC, pick a movie from the carefully curated collection, and appreciate it or hate it or have some reaction to it.
Accessible by trains to West 4th or Christopher Street, heterogeneity is the norm; the IFC Center is in the soul of Greenwich Village, one of Manhattan’s last cultural hubs. It reels in people of all backgrounds and hones in on inclusivity with all-gender bathrooms.