AFS Cinema Grand Opening

May 26 marked the grand opening of the newly renovated AFS Cinema, a two-screen art house movie theater with a 4,675-square-foot event hall. Operated by the Austin Film Society, the AFS Cinema and Hall (formerly Marchesa Hall & Theatre) will bring the best of new and classic international and independent cinema to Austin audiences.

The grand opening was a long time coming for AFS. Even though the organization was founded more than 30 years ago — in 1985 by filmmaker Richard Linklater to be exact — the organization didn’t need and couldn’t afford a permanent home. Over the years, though, Austin began to develop a reputation as a great film-watching town, and venues such as the Alamo Drafthouse and the Violet Crown began springing up. However, there was still a gap; Austin needed a full-time, dedicated arthouse to screen repertory and new independent and international releases that are not mainstream commercial fare.

Now, with the opening of AFS Cinema, it appears that gap has been filled — and if the first month’s screening schedule is any indication, film lovers are in for a treat. Opening weekend included a celebration of Lone Star cinema, plus 1960s Italian comedy, and the rest of the films slated for June promise to be just as diverse and eclectic. As an added bonus, the theater has a full-service bar with specialty cocktails and local microbrews on tap, plus a concessions menu that features fresh, regionally sourced snacks — not to mention plenty of parking!

Over the years, AFS has delivered on its mission to “empower our community to make, watch, and love film and creative media.” It has curated and screened hundreds of repertory, international and arthouse films annually at the AFS Cinema; delivered financial support to Texas filmmakers through the AFS Grant; and operated Austin Studios, a 20-acre production facility and Austin Public, a space for our city’s diverse media makers to train and collaborate. AFS also provides an opportunity for youth of all backgrounds to learn the craft of filmmaking and gain access to the tools they need to create it. Through AFS, youth can attend after-school classes, intern training and the Ed Lowry Student Film program.

And now, because of AFS, there’s one more venue in Austin where film lovers can enjoy quality programming while beating the summer heat.

The AFS Cinema and Hall is located at 6406 N. 1-35 #3100. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit

Photo Credit: J.R. Eyerman

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