An Ode To A/perture, Winston-Salem’s Art-House Oasis

A/perture Cinema offers the perfect escape from the Wake Forest bubble


A/perture captures its audience’s imagination with their diverse lineup of films.

James Watson, Staff Writer

Toward the end of orientation week, one thing became increasingly evident — I needed a break. According to the Meyers-Briggs personality test, I am an introvert. More specifically, I need time away from crowds or social occasions to recharge. After a week of mostly perfunctory orientation activities, my social battery was not just empty, it was leaking and corroded. Not to mention, fire alarms had prevented me from a full night’s sleep every night I had been here. With these factors bearing down on me, I planned my escape. 

Months before move-in, I had my sights set on a little art-house theater in downtown Winston-Salem called A/perture Cinema. The theater was unlike anything I’d had access to before. It was vibrant, arty and full of adoration for its main attraction: the movies. Most importantly, A/perture featured a slew of excellent programming ranging from blockbusters, limited-run restorations and touring new releases. As someone with a well-maintained Letterboxd Pro account and a John Cassavetes Boxset sitting on my desk, A/perture’s existence was a dream come true. 

That Saturday night, I scooped up some friends, made the pilgrimage to the freshman parking lot and bolted downtown. We decided to see the new National Geographic-produced “Fire of Love” documentary, chronicling the lives of prominent volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. Immediately, we were impressed with A/perture’s presentation. The art filling the lobby and bathrooms was referential and quirky, the architecture was modern and inviting and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier. After collecting our tickets, we made our way to the “petite” theater, a small screening room reserved for low-profile releases. The walls were adorned with artistic reinterpretations of iconic movie posters, and the seats were very comfy — maybe too comfy. The two equally-exhausted people I went with struggled to stay awake during the film (it had been a long week after all.) But I was wide awake, mesmerized by the imagery of the incomprehensible beauty and terror of volcanoes. It was the perfect escape. 

Though I’ve probably just characterized myself as the most insufferable moviegoer ever, I’d like to point out that at A/perture there is no sense of snobbery or pretension, just an abundance of love — love for the community, the films and their patrons. Features are preceded by community spotlights highlighting North Carolina artists, an Indigenous land acknowledgment and an interview with a particular staff member. Locally produced short-film screenings are not uncommon. These elements demonstrate A/perture’s unwavering commitment to uplifting artistic voices around the globe and throughout the Piedmont Triad community. If you need further evidence of this commitment, A/perture screens more than 250 films a year, more than 35% of which are directed by women and half are from outside of the US. These statistics speak directly to the heart of their mission statement: “To entertain and engage the community through the art of film by showcasing informative, educational, thought-provoking, and inspiring films—the films that enrich our lives, engage our minds, promote diversity, and build community.” There is an all-consuming atmosphere of acceptance, that no matter what kind of movie lover you are, there is a seat reserved just for you. 

All this to say that I, like many others, love A/perture Cinema. It is a world-class venue screening the best art out there. For me, my first Saturday night at A/perture was the perfect welcome to Winston-Salem.

A/perture Cinema is located at 311 W 4th St, in downtown Winston-Salem. Wake students can get a discounted ticket when they present their student ID at the box office. For ticket reservations and showtimes, visit their website: