Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Microcinema: A Guide to Radical Screening: Home


Welcome to the Pratt MICROCINEMA Libguide! This guide has been designed for the adventurous CINEPHILE looking to take programming into their own hands! It will explain what a MICROCINEMA is and provide useful information on how to start one.

You will discover the benefits and challenges of radical screening practices through an introduction to materials, formats, histories, and legal resources.

Whether you are interested in researching the history of the practice, hoping to learn more about alternative screening spaces in the NYC area, or looking to set up your own MICROCINEMA, the goal of this guide is to give you the foundation you need. 

Early Heroes of Microcinema: Henri Langlois

Henri Langlois (1914-77) founded the Cercle du Cinema in Paris in 1935, which then became the Cinémathèque Française the following year. Langlois was the figurehead of this operation, which began modestly and with film prints that he had privately acquired through persistent collecting.  Many of the Cinémathèque's prints were seized during the Occupation in the 1940s, but Langlois was successful in hiding some of his collection. The Cinémathèque remained in operation throughout WWII, and was revitalized with government subsidies after the war. It continues to operate today and is one of the largest film archives in the world.  

What is Microcinema?

"Microcinemas—small-scale, do-it-yourself (DIY) exhibition venues— provide noncommercial, nontheatrical options for exhibition by independent programmers and are often cultivated as alternatives to the well-established— and culturally and economically hegemonic—commercial movie industry and sometimes, oppositionally, as a rejection of it" (de Ville, 2015). 

"...implicitly, it would seem, one quality of small media is that they allow people to say things that big media ignore, discourage, or outright disallow, making room for alternate voices or counter-public spheres" (Conway, 2008).  

"The most enterprising microcinemas promise not just a film that isn’t showing anywhere else but also an experience tailored around it" (Lim, 2011). 

Why Microcinema?

Beginning a microcinema should be an exciting prospect. The autonomy and experimentation that comes with running a small scale screening space is unmatched by ordinary exhibition models. Consider the specificity of your intentions as you develop your mission statement. What kind of equipment is necessary? What kind of space will you need for your microcinemaWhat are your programming goals? Do you plan on going fully underground or do you hope to legitimize your microcinema? What kind of funding is necessary to pull all of this off? This guide will attempt to answer these questions while also providing examples of successful examples of microcinemas.

Early Heroes of Microcinema: Jonas Mekas

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019) founded the Film-Makers’ Cooperative in downtown Manhattan in 1962 as a way to distribute the works of avant-garde filmmakers, and the Film-Makers' Cinematheque became an exhibition space for these works. Those who brought a reel of their own work to the Cinematheque were granted free admission. In 1970 Mekas established Anthology Film Archives, the preeminent institution of its kind. Its mission is to house and protect a wide array of film art, to be made available to researchers and film scholars, both by appointment and through the Anthology’s generous repertory screening calendar.



Conway, Kyle. (2008). Small Media, Global Media: Kino and the Microcinema Movement. Journal of Film and Video, 60(3/4), 60-71. Retrieved from

Lim, Dennis. (2011, September 2). Choosing Cinematheque Over Cineplex. New York Times, p. AR6. Retrieved from

Mannoni, L., & Crangle, R. (2006). Henri Langlois and the Musée du Cinéma. Film History, 18(3), 274-287. Retrieved from

Ruoff, J. (1991). Home Movies of the Avant-Garde: Jonas Mekas and the New York Art World. Cinema Journal, 30(3), 6-28. doi:10.2307/1224927