Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Slab Cinema Arthouse: San Antonio’s champion of independent film

Dustin Vickers

This past week, I attended a screening of “Inland Empire,” a dizzyingly opaque three-hour psycho-thriller nightmare, at Slab Cinema Arthouse, a small theater in the Blue Star Arts Complex in Southtown. Oftentimes, experiences at movie theaters frustrate me, typically because of certain types of people who disrupt the theater experience by talking with their friends or going on their phones. There are types of films that demand your undivided attention, and David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” is certainly one of those. My first experience viewing the film at another theater was less-than-ideal for this exact reason. 

The screening took place almost two years ago, but I vividly remember that sitting directly behind me, a couple began to fight during the first hour of the film. Their discussion was whispered, at first, but as the film went on, they gradually got more aggressive with each other. During the final half-hour of the film, one of them stood up and stormed out of the theater, and the other followed quickly. I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but at that moment, I was so entranced in their domestic dispute that I had begun to completely ignore the film.

The reason I bring up this anecdote is because a theater like the Slab Cinema Arthouse is specifically designed to prevent situations like this. The theater cultivates an intimate atmosphere. Everyone sitting around you is just as interested in watching the film as you are. When you enter the theater, you will be greeted with a spread-out assortment of chairs and tables and a few more velvet theater seats set against the back wall. Also adorning the viewing room is a beautiful glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling and annotated photographs decorating the wall.

The Slab Cinema Arthouse is an extension of Slab Cinema, a local company owned by Angela and Rick Martinez, who specialize in showing family-friendly films outdoors on large inflatable screens. The Arthouse location in the Blue Star Arts Complex functions as a permanent home to “independent, foreign and classic films.” 

The Slab Cinema Arthouse is not just a place to watch movies; it is a community hub for local cinephiles, musicians, artists and art appreciators alike. They have hosted many installations, karaoke and open-mic nights, and later this month, they will host an album release party for local psych-punk band Powdered Wig Machine.

The current slate of films to be screened in the month of October has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you are a die-hard cinephile looking to find a community or just looking to check out some cool movies. The films being played are:

Roman Polanski’s early career thriller “Repulsion” on Oct. 2 and 3 

Michel Haneke’s home invasion nightmare “Funny Games” on Oct. 9 and 10

Raza Cósmica,” a compilation of Latino sci-fi short films on Oct. 12

Jean-Luc Godard’s dystopian French New Wave noir “Alphaville” on Oct. 16 and 17

Terry Gilliam’s surrealist satire “Brazil” on Oct. 23 and 24

Ari Aster’s contemporary folk horror hit “Midsommar” on Oct. 26 and 30

The environment that the Slab Cinema Arthouse has cultivated is one of an intoxicating love for cinema and all things local art. Watching films in their space is an experience you will not get at any other theater in the city. Your visit will be elevated by the love radiating from every inch of their viewing space and the wonderful people who occupy it. Their space is truly special, and if you are just a budding cinephile, the Slab Cinema Arthouse will be your best friend for the foreseeable future. If you are already as film-obsessed as I am, this will only intensify your passion.

Slab Cinema Arthouse is located at 134 Blue Star in the Blue Star Arts Complex. To learn more about their upcoming screenings, visit To see upcoming films set to be screened outdoors, visit

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About the Contributor
Dustin Vickers
Dustin Vickers, Photo Editor
Dustin (He/Him) is a third-year medical humanities major with a concentration in health careers. After graduation, he plans on attending medical school in hopes of becoming an emergency radiologist. When he’s out of the classroom, he is helping run the swim club with his co-president, blasting some sick beats, or looking for a good spot to grub.

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