The past few weeks have brought with them the chilly temperatures, gray skies and rain that signal the arrival of winter in Santiago. As a result, I've pulled my wool leg warmers out of storage, begun sleeping with a rubber pouch filled with hot water (my beloved guatero), and given whole new meaning to the term "mismatched layers." I've also found that I can't always rally up the courage to plan a night on the town that involves sidewalk tables or frigid midnight strolls. Therefore, I've been seeing a lot of movies.
If you're like me, you might be feeling the need to hunker down in a comfortable seat in a cozy movie theater instead of pounding back a freezing bottle of Escudo on a pub terrace. And, if you're like me, you're probably feeling the need to do so cheaply. When it comes down to it, going to commercial multiplexes in Chile is almost as expensive as doing so in the States, especially if you choose a theater in a wealthier neighborhood (yep, the prices are different). But fear not: There are plenty of places to take in cheap flicks in this fair city. Below are some of the ones I've found.
1. Matucana 100. This publicly funded cultural center shows movies for 500 pesos in a small but comfy viewing room. I've been there three times in the past two weeks. They're showing Hitchcock, Spike Lee and Coen brothers movies right now and have a documentary series coming up next month.
2. Biblioteca de Santiago. Oh, how I love thee. Located just across the street from Matucana 100, this public library has an underground auditorium that occasionally hosts film series and festivals. Oftentimes, viewers are asked to make a voluntary donation instead of paying an entrance fee.
3. Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda. This relatively new cultural center is located beneath the La Moneda presidential palace. (Imagine someone suggesting building a publicly accessible cultural center directly under the White House. Ha.) The Cineteca Nacional shows some movies for 2,000 pesos (1,000 for students and seniors) and others (in a smaller room) for free. On the schedule for this month is Te creis la mas linda pero eris la mas puta, a Chilean film which, if you hang on past the first 20 minutes, offers up a lot of good laughs.
4. Centro Arte Alameda. The prices at this theater are relatively low compared to those at the multiplexes. Plus, the movies are generally of a different sort: Centro Arte Alameda shows a lot of Chilean and independent films and socially minded documentaries. If you can prove that you live or work in Santiago Centro, you can get in for 1,000 pesos. If you see a film in Sala 2, be prepared to put up with a moderate level of background noise from the meeting space below.
5. Other cultural centers and institutes. Some independent cultural centers host screenings. Plaza Brasil's Taller Sol traditionally has projected movies onto an outdoor screen in the summer but apparently ran into trouble for unauthorized use of public space (even though they didn't charge). Language and culture institutes like Chileno-Norteamericano, Chileno-Britanico and Goethe Institut also routinely host film series.
6. Commercial theaters on discount day. Wednesday is cheap movie day in Santiago, with most theaters posting lower prices. The Cinemundo at Mall Plaza Alameda in Estacion Central offers a 2 for 1 deal for most 2-D films on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
7. Film festivals. As it happens, one of these, the Festival de Cine Social y Antisocial (FECISO), is going on this week at the University of Chile's Cineteca and in outdoor spaces in Santiago's southern neighborhoods, primarily La Pintana. While the University of Chile has published a schedule of the films being shown at its Juan Gomez Millas campus in Nunoa, FECISO organizers seemed to have dropped the ball over at their own website and blog. If you're interested in going out to a neighborhood screening, I would recommend e-mailing festivaldecinesocial (at) gmail (dot) com for more information. It's a great opportunity to see free movies (a number of which you probably won't get to see anywhere else) and get to know and draw your own conclusions about neighborhoods that are routinely stigmatized in the media. I froze my butt off when I went last year, so bundle up!
8. Special events. Check event pages like Revolver, Saborizante and Estoy for listings.
Happy viewing! I'm off to get my boots repaired...because it's officially boot season.