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Film Appreciation 201 

A short course in big-screen viewing on the cheap

click to enlarge The Prytania Theatre screens a free movie every month for New Orleans Film Society members. - PHOTO BY GARY LOVERDE
  • Photo by Gary Loverde
  • The Prytania Theatre screens a free movie every month for New Orleans Film Society members.
Even with a student discount, multiplex tickets can be expensive for those on ramen-grade budgets. Fortunately, there are ways to get your film fix on the cheap other than relying on dusty VHS tapes in your campus library or streaming bootleg movies from Swedish websites in your dorm. New Orleans offers many inexpensive — or free — ways to see movies, and you don't have to borrow your roommate's car and drive out to Metairie to see them.

  Unless you're a 12-year senior, chances are you're younger than 30 and are eligible for the New Orleans Film Society's (NOFS) steal of a membership deal. Yearly membership to the society, which hosts film events around town, is only $25 for people under 30 (regular memberships start at $60). Membership comes with a number of perks: Every month the Prytania Theatre (5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; screens a free movie for NOFS members, and Chalmette Movies (8700 W. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette, 304-9992; does the same thing on Thursdays. Members also get discounts at regular NOFS screenings — held at venues including the Prytania, New Orleans Museum of Art, the Contemporary Arts Center and Coliseum Square Park — as well as the NOFS-sponsored film festivals Film-o-Rama, the French Film Festival and the upcoming New Orleans Film Festival (Oct. 14-20).

  Interested in learning more about all those social problems your freshman-level sociology classes are exploring? The Charitable Film Network (CFN) (896-7333; collaborates with local artists, nonprofits and community groups to screen free films, usually those with a socially conscious bent. The CFN partners with the NOFS for some events, as well as The Green Project (2831 Marais St., 945-0240; for its monthly Green Screen series, Antenna Gallery (3161 Burgundy St.; and other organizations. Check CFN's website and Facebook page for more information.

click to enlarge Drive, bike or walk to NOLA Drive-Inn. - PHOTO BY SERGIO LOBO-NAVIA
  • Photo by Sergio Lobo-Navia
  • Drive, bike or walk to NOLA Drive-Inn.

  Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center (1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 827-5858; — which offers a student ticket for $6 — also screens socially conscious films, but selections also can include horror movies, animated features, foreign selections, Oscar-winning documentaries and quirky comedies. The space's concession stand is also more colorful than that of your average movie house, with offbeat offerings like homemade Popsicles, Japanese candy and vegan snacks.

  For a retro twist on cheap flicks, NOLA Drive-In screens drive-in (or bike-in or walk-in) movies in the parking lot of the former Schwegmann's grocery store at the corner of St. Claude and Elysian Fields avenues. Admission at the most recent screening was $5. Follow NOLA Drive-In on Twitter (@NolaDriveIn) for upcoming screenings.

  See a free movie and get a cheap meal at the French Quarter location of La Divina Gelateria (621 St. Peter St., 302-2692;, which hosts a monthly Monday Movie Madness series. There's a different theme each month, with past categories for free screenings including Alfred Hitchcock, Christmas and Laurel & Hardy movies. During the screenings at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, the cafe offers panino, a cup of soup or house salad, a hot double espresso and a 4-ounce espresso for $15.

  You sometimes can find free movie passes in the pages of Gambit, online at and on our Twitter "schwag" feed @GambitGoods.

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