We are an independent cinema showing new & classic foreign, independent and documentary films & teaching vital 21st century literacy skills!

There is so much to learn, enjoy and experience at the Amherst Cinema!

We are excited about our flagship education program for school children, See-Hear-Feel-Film, a writing-based visual literacy program for 1,400 third grade students. Students come from throughout the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts. Over 75% come from underserved public school districts and participate on scholarship.

We have become a visual society, receiving a large part of our information from moving images -- television, video, computers, and the Internet. Teaching our children how to interpret these images has never been more important!

How See-Hear-Feel-Film Works. The program uses eight short films and film clips from around the world to spark written expression. The films range from a one-minute animated film created by an 11-year old to an eight-minute live-action feature film clip about a boy who attends a school for the blind in Teheran. The films were carefully selected to help the children see the world from different perspectives.

During visits to Amherst Cinema, students watch and discuss films as a class, then break into small groups of 6 – 8 led by volunteers to work collaboratively creating, writing and presenting their own stories. Classroom teachers are given a comprehensive curriculum, DVDs with all films used in the program. They are also given training so they can teach additional See-Hear-Feel-Film units in their own classrooms.

Each child receives his or her own film journal!

What Students Learn. By the end of the program, students have learned that films are moving stories, that books and films have much in common (such as characters who have different motivations and perspectives), and that descriptive detail and dialogue make people and places come alive. The students have gained an understanding of the many tools filmmakers use to move ideas from their imaginations into the world. The children see that stories live inside each of us, and that they, too, can become powerful storytellers and writers.

What Children, Teachers and Volunteers Say.

"Better than Christmas!" Holyoke Third Grader

"This was the best field trip ever!" Chicopee Third Grader

"I have been teaching for over 20 years and this was truly one of the best field trips we have taken." Third Grade Teacher, Chicopee Public Schools

“The best critics are the students and they LOVED it. The children enjoyed See-Hear-Feel-Film so much, they wanted to write in their journals on the way home!” Third Grade Teacher, Chicopee Public Schools

"People often think of literacy as reading and writing, but it is so much more -- it is being literate as an individual; it is being able to view a multitude of media and make meaning from it. SHFF is a way to bring literacy alive through the medium of film.” Curriculum Director, Holyoke Public Schools

“I couldn’t believe how the third graders’ images of themselves as possible writers/ movie makers grew in just one morning!.” See-Hear-Feel-Film Volunteer


Film allows you to enter new worlds. We show over 125 film gems a year on our three screens – most will never be seen in commercial theaters. We choose films that inspire and educate and that create dialogue among our neighbors. In the last year, we screened films in 15 different languages. Our cinema is a crossroads in the community where people of all ages and backgrounds feel welcome.

We host acclaimed and emerging filmmakers and connect living filmmakers with audiences.

In addition to current-release film (offered every day of the year), we present special film programs, often in collaboration with other nonprofits, museums, schools, and colleges. Films have covered topics such as agriculture, astronomy, art, the environment, French language, jazz, Jewish history and culture, medicine, neurology and the brain, the Cold War, Buddhism, Tibetan culture, Tokyo, and Shakespeare.

Come be a part of it! We welcome you!


Join the Conversation


Organization Information

32 Fans