It’s an Austin movie theater 32 years in the making.
Designed by Academy-Award nominated director Richard Linklater and the Austin Film Society, the AFS Cinema is now open to the public.
It’s the first permanent home for the Austin Film Society, which Linklater founded back in 1985.
AFS is a non-profit organization aimed at promoting, screening and funding films that may otherwise not be made or seen.
The AFS Cinema was originally the old Marchesa Hall & Theatre located just off I-35 in North Austin. AFS raised a million and a half dollars in donations to transform the space into a one-of-a-kind theater experience.
There are two brand-new screens and an event space.
When you walk into AFS Cinema, one of the first things you’ll notice are the chandelier hanging overhead and the large red curtain covering the back wall.
The light was designed and created by an Austin-based company, and the curtain was hand-sewed by local set designers to evoke an old-Hollywood feel.
To the right of the entrance is the concessions stand. But you won’t find the typical movie theater fare. Instead, AFS Cinema’s Head Chef Peter Klein has created a menu using local, unique ingredients for foods such as pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches, a savory baked pretzel, herbed popcorn and hot links.
"We have a Greek salad on the menu that features a really fantastic goat milk feta from Dripping Springs,” said Klein, who originally worked as a chef in New York City fine-dining restaurants.
"This provided a unique opportunity to offer people really exciting food,” Klein said.
Posters from AFS Founder and Academy-Award nominated director Richard Linkater's personal collection are all over the walls.
AFS CEO Rebecca Campbell explains that while Linklater could have left for Hollywood years ago, it’s important for him to build the movie industry here in Texas. Now, his organization has a space to share that passion for film.
"This is an expression of something where his life has been made so much better by this and now he's sharing it with everybody,” said Campbell.
"We're going to be able to round up the most interesting, most exciting, funnest, saddest films that you've just got to see,” she explained. "They trust us to find these movies and people can come and discover them."
It’s a shrine to cinema for people who really love movies.
For a list of what’s showing and directions to AFS Cinema, click here.