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  • Jack Starr

Sheffield Independent Cinema Guide – The Best Places in Town to Watch Films

Sheffield has plenty to offer when it comes to cinemas. From blockbusters to indie arthouses, to international festivals and community film socials, there’s lots to check out. Here’s your guide to what you can check out, and where.

The Showroom Cinema

The Showroom is the number-one stop in Sheffield for film-lovers. Located right in the city centre, directly opposite the train station and just across from the Hallam University campus, you can’t miss it. Built in the 1930s, the Showroom was originally an art-deco car showroom before being converted to an independent cinema in the 1990s.

The cinema has four screens: screens 3 and 4 are downstairs and larger, while screens 1 and 2 are smaller and more intimate. The Showroom also has a café-bar with a full food menu and a selection of alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, and hot drinks to choose from. The box office also serves popcorn and sweets at reasonable prices, as well as an impressive selection of craft beers, ales and ciders. Also at the box office, you can buy film gifts and memorabilia: t-shirts, mugs, magazines, books, gift cards, and other film-related merch.

The Showroom is an independent cinema and registered charity, and as such, principally shows independent films, foreign films, screenings of classic films, and even live-streamed stage-on-screen special events. It hosts multiple festivals annually: Doc/Fest, held every summer, is one of the world’s biggest documentary film festivals; other annual festivals include Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (SHAFF), which hosts outdoor-related films, and Celluloid Screams, a horror film festival.

They also have frequent mini-festivals. Recently, they held a ‘Westival’ – a mini-season showing all of the films by eccentric director Wes Anderson, in celebration of his latest film Asteroid City.

The best thing about Showroom is the price – with the free Cine 26 membership for people 26 and under, you get £4.50 cinema tickets, plus free birthday tickets and loyalty points on all purchases. There are other memberships available, both free and paid. It also champions accessibility – on Mondays, all films are subtitled (where subtitles are available).

One of the only downsides of the Showroom is the lack of big-studio films and blockbusters, though it does occasionally get a few per year – past examples include films from hit franchises like Star Wars, James Bond, Jurassic Park and Avatar.

Early Doors is a special event held every Thursday morning at 11am for over-55s, where for only £7, you can see the most popular new release of the week with a tea/coffee and slice of cake. Kino Bambino is a special Monday lunchtime event for parents with babies under one year, where they can enjoy new films without worrying about a babysitter. Every Saturday morning, they have Family Time, where classic children’s films are shown for only £5 a ticket.

Showroom also hosts classic screenings, including Young Programmer specials and staff spotlights, where people from the community host films of their choice. It’s a great opportunity to see films you might have missed on the big screen. Additionally, they have a monthly Film Quiz in the bar, where you can compete to answer movie trivia and win prizes.

There’s always unique and interesting stuff going on at the Showroom – you can check it out on the website.

Curzon Sheffield

Curzon is Sheffield’s other independent cinema – though it does belong to a national chain, it also specialises in arthouse films, with a few blockbusters available too. Tucked away down George Street (near the Crucible and Lidl), it’s easy to miss, but it’s a lovely and extravagant Grade-II listed building that even has a rooftop terrace.

A smaller cinema, the Curzon has three screens. The screens have a much smaller capacity than other cinemas in town, but they offer large, comfy seats with plenty of legroom for a more luxury cinema experience. Their bar offers an all-day menu of pizza and bar food, as well as tea and coffee, pastries, and cocktails.

Like the Showroom, Curzon has a free membership for young people – people 25-and-under can get £9 tickets at peak times or £6 off-peak. This makes it a bit more expensive than Showroom, but it is still cheaper than most of the big-chain cinemas. It also gives you access to discounted home rentals with Curzon Home Cinema, if you prefer to watch at home.

In short, Curzon is ideal for a quieter, more luxury-oriented cinema trip, focused on independent film. Check them out here.

Film Unit

Film Unit is the University of Sheffield’s student cinema – though it is open to everyone. Founded in 1949, making it the UK’s longest-serving student film society, it has won heaps of awards as one of the best student cinemas in the country. Entirely run and managed by student volunteers, it is one of the cheapest ways to watch films too, at a set price of £3 a ticket.

Based in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in the Student’s Union, Film Unit unfortunately only runs during term-time (September-December, January-April), but their programmes are absolutely worth checking out when they’re on. Screenings usually take place Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, and consist of specially-selected films – both recent releases and classics, chosen by the Film Unit community.

Their programme booklets are filled with info about the films, as well as little profiles for the committee members, and the last few have even included mini-essays – they’re definitely worth picking up if you’re ever around the university.

Film Unit have volunteering opportunities to get involved – whether in the committee, or as an usher, or even as a projectionist, giving students and the community a great way to get involved in the world of cinema exhibition.

They also organise social events, and give other student societies the opportunity to have their socials at the film screenings, so if you’re a student, it’s a no-brainer to check them out.

Kelham Island Film Club

Kelham Island Film Club is a pop-up community cinema, based in the Alder bar on Percy Street in Neepsend. They show classic films on Thursday nights, with a special theme each month. Tickets are a bargain at only £3, with drinks deals included, and even food deals from local guest food vendors.

Themes have included an ‘80s Movie Season, and a ‘Witch, Bitch and Gore’ Series. This is a unique way to see films, with a social experience included and a chance to sample local food and drink while you’re there.

Keep an eye on their socials and Eventbrite page to keep up-to-date with screenings and food deals.

Community Kino

Community Kino, another pop-up community cinema, describes itself as ‘Sheffield’s Radical Community Cinema’. Based at Theatre Deli on Arley Street, tickets are also only £3, with films screening of the second Wednesday of each month.

The films screened here are themed around radical politics and progressive causes – for example, previous films have included Judas and the Black Messiah, Pride, and a double-bill of films by socialist director Ken Loach: Bread and Roses, and The Spirit of ’45.

The film screenings also include opportunities for food and drink, as well as discussions. As they describe it: ‘we believe cinema can be an edifying and transformative tool for seeing ourselves, others and the wider society. Our films will fulfil progressive discussions aimed at identifying the alternatives we are desperately seeking.’

You can find out more on their social pages, or their Eventbrite.

The Chain Cinemas: The Light, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue

Of course, if independent cinema isn’t your thing, and you just want to catch the latest blockbusters and franchises on the big screen, Sheffield has plenty of options.

The Light is Sheffield’s newest and shiniest multiplex, located on the Moor and boasting comfy reclining seats with lots of legroom and plenty of food and drink options. Tickets can be pricey, but they do offer monthly memberships with unlimited films.

The Odeon Luxe on Arundel Gate is another luxury chain cinema. It recently underwent a total refurbishment, with the experience now centred on total luxury and comfort, including fancy recliners. This is reflected in the price however – with standard tickets as high as £18, this is the most expensive cinema in town.

Cineworld Sheffield is located at Valley Centertainment, accessible by tram. With 20 screens, including an IMAX screen, it’s the biggest cinema in town, as well as being Cineworld’s biggest venue, and one of the busiest cinemas in the UK. There are all sorts of special experiences on offer, including 4DX, IMAX 3D, and other high-tech special facilities.

Finally, there is Meadowhall's Vue cinema, with 11 screens. This one is a bit cheaper than the other big-chain cinemas in Sheffield, and is a perfect place to sneak off to during a shopping trip.


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