Where to find free or discounted movie screenings in Berkeley

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Friday Film Series

Where: Wheeler Auditorium

When: Check the schedule.

Price: $3 with Cal ID


ASUC SUPERB hosts a series of film screenings every semester in Wheeler Auditorium. What makes this series exceptional is that it features popular, high-budget and quality films for the discounted price of $3. Films screened in Wheeler were released earlier in the year but have since disappeared from most theaters. If there’s an Oscar nom you’ve been dying to see, wait a few weeks, and you can see it in Wheeler for a third of the price of a standard theater ticket. Upcoming films include Academy Award winners “Her” and “American Hustle.”

$5 Flashbacks

Where: United Artists Berkeley 7

When: Check the schedule.

Price: $5

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United Artists Theatres is another pricey, mega-movie-theater chain, but for the discounted price of $5, you can watch classic Hollywood films that have become embedded in popular culture. Chances are you’ve already seen these films countless times on blocky VHS tapes at home, but watching them on a big movie-theater screen (with big movie-theater sound!) is a completely new and exciting experience. Past films include Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and John Hughes’ teen ’80s classic “Pretty in Pink.” The next film flashback is “The Sound of Music.”

Pacific Film Archive film series

Where: Berkeley Arts Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA)

When: Check the schedule.

Price: $5.50 with Cal ID


Every semester, the Pacific Film Archive screens an exhaustive list of films. These films range from critical, thought-provoking documentaries to classic American comedies such as “Beetlejuice” and “Young Frankenstein.” Last semester, PFA hosted the film series “Castle in the Sky: Masterful Anime from Studio Ghibli,” which spotlighted animated films produced by Japanese studio company Studio Ghibli. Ongoing series include “The Brilliance of Satyajit Ray,” which features films by the influential director Satyajit Ray; “Documentary Voices,” which features contemporary and historical documentaries; and “Film 50: History of Cinema,” a film-lecture series open to the public when space is available.

Super Cinema

Where: Berkeley Public Library’s Downtown branch

When: Every Friday

Price: Free

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Super Cinema is a film series hosted every Friday in the third-floor community meeting room of the Berkeley Public Library. This series is completely free, and no, you don’t need a library card to attend, but you owe it to yourself to get one because this is a beautiful library. This month’s theme is “Films About Women, By Women,” and the last film of the series is “Frozen River,” “in which two working class single mothers in upstate New York, one white and one Native American, form an uneasy partnership to smuggle illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River in the trunk of a car.” Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

German Film Club

Where: 282 Dwinelle Hall

When: Check the schedule.

Price: Free

The German Film Club screens a series of German films every semester in 282 Dwinelle Hall. Though mainly intended for students taking classes in the German department, the screenings are open to the public and are completely free. Don’t worry — you don’t have to understand German to watch these films: All films are shown with English subtitles. This semester’s theme is “Crime Scene: Deutschland.” Films scheduled for this semester include “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” “Funny Games” and “M.”

Italian Movie Night

Where: 159 Mulford Hall

When: Check the schedule.

Price: Free

The Italian International Student Association hosts movie nights Wednesdays in 159 Mulford Hall. Admission is free, and all films are shown with English subtitles. This spring, IISA promises to satisfy audiences with “some of the most  acclaimed recent Italian productions.” Upcoming films include “Il comandante e la cicogna”  (Garibaldi’s Lovers), “Educazione siberiana” (Siberian Education) and “Basilicata: Coast to Coast.”

Cine Latino

Where:  2040 Valley Life Sciences Building

When: Check the schedule.

Price: Free

Cine Latino is a film series sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies. Past films include “Gold Fever,” a “hard-hitting”  documentary about a dispute over the Maya people’s territorial rights, and “We Are the Nobles,” a Mexican comedy the New York Times claims “inflicts blunt trauma on any suggestion that Mexico may soon emerge as a middle-class country.” Cine Latino has also hosted several director Q&As in the past, including a Q&A with Sebastian Silva, director of “Crystal Fairy.” “Operation E,” the last film of the series,” will be screened April 9 at 7 p.m.

Shattuck Cinemas

Price: $8 with student ID

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Shattuck Cinemas is a little pricier compared to the previous places. However, a student ID will give you a $2 discount, bringing the price of a ticket down to a reasonable $8. What makes Shattuck Cinemas worth visiting is its ridiculously comfortable seating. Instead of the standard, cramped rows of seats that usually characterize movie theaters, this place is furnished with reclining leather chairs, leather loveseats and even giant beanbag chairs. What’s more, after 10 p.m. there are shows for those 21 and older in which you can purchase a drink at the bar and bring it into the movie theater with you. Earlier this semester, the ASUC hosted a free screening of “Bad Words,” followed by a Q&A with Jason Bateman, in Shattuck Cinemas.

California Theatre

Price: $8 with student ID

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The California Theatre — also affectionately known as “The Cal” — is a historical theater built in 1913. Though less luxurious than Shattuck Cinemas (the screens are small, and the seating can be a bit cramped), the California Theatre has a charming, nostalgic feel to it. The Cal is selective about the films it screens (it never shows more than three films at a time), but the films it does show are either Oscar nominees, independent films or B-movie classics. This semester, the theater hosted a free screening of “Cesar Chavez,” followed by a Q&A with director (and film star hottie) Diego Luna. The Cal is currently showing Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel” and Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises.”

Contact Lilia Vega at [email protected].