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Lighting Up the Screen Again

West End Cinema returns in the former Inner Circle Theater space on M Street

Film posters for West End Cinema's opening weekend fair line the walls of the new theater's lobby. Photograph by Caitlin Fairchild.

DC has lost a host of movie theaters in recent years. The AMC Loews Dupont 5 closed in 2008. Also in Dupont Circle, Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge, formerly the Embassy Theater, shuttered in 2004, as did the Outer Circle in Tenleytown—to name just a few. But there’s good news for movie buffs: West End Cinema will open to the public October 29 at 2301 M Street, Northwest. Formerly the Inner Circle Theater, the site had sat forlorn and vacant since 2003. Enter Josh Levin and Jamie Shor. Inspired by the cinematheques of Europe—small theaters devoted to classic and avant-garde film—the two joined forces to renovate the space.

The new theater is made up of three theaters, with capacities of 95, 75, and 50 people. Projection booths are equipped with both modern and classic technology—high-definition digital projectors as well as 35-millimeter reel-to-reel projectors.

“It’s the old-school way to show movies,” said Levin. “This method of projection is easier on the prints. If filmmakers have only one print or they’re playing a classic film or fragile print, we can give it the TLC it needs.”

As for the content, West End Cinema will focus on first-run independent, documentary, and foreign films, but the owners are open to anything.

“We have a lot of room to experiment, so we can try out a lot of films,” says programming director Renee Tsao. “We can attract a smaller niche audience and still have a full house.”

This weekend’s screenings include the Sundance darling Howl, starring James Franco as poet Allen Ginsberg; the political documentary Gerrymandering; and the vampire flick Let Me In.

Refreshments will cater to a sophisticated palate—concessions include deli sandwiches and gourmet chocolate as well as a variety of beer, wine, and spirits.

Click here for showtimes and ticket information.

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