Best Repertory Movie House

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

Repertory movie houses may be all but extinct, but the East Bay can count itself lucky for the one that still stands — the fabulous Niles Essanay Film Museum, located in the sun-baked Fremont neighborhood of Niles. The cozy museum/theater occupies the site of an old neighborhood theater from the early 1900s, and is both a loving monument to the birth of the movies and a still-working theater where “old movie” is always a compliment. Every Saturday, the museum’s amiable staff of movie geeks conducts brief but fascinating tours of its historic nooks and crannies, including the original tin-lined projection booth. Later that evening, you can join East Bay silent-film fans for screenings of silent-era classics, many of them great rarities. Many of these films were actually shot around Niles by the Essanay Company, which was located right next door (five of them starred Charlie Chaplin). The screenings are always full with young and old alike and feel more like a community gathering than just another night out at the boring old multiplex. The museum also hosts the Broncho Billy Film Festival every during June.


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