All of a sudden, at the foot of a few steps in Midtown, there’s a purple basement door that announces itself with this sign: “Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre.” From one image to another — the gray concrete, the mysterious entry, and the poetic assemblage of words signaling place — there’s an undeniable sense of dream logic at play.
In a way, that’s right on. By entering the purple door at 1901 P St., you’ve stepped into the world of The Dreamland Cinema, Sacramento’s newest movie theater. “Talking about dreams is like talking about movies,” as the Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini once said.
The Dreamland Cinema’s founders and owners, Tish + Lauren, opened it in June after noticing a need for a microcinema in Sacramento. They were right — after a provisional one-month residency from the owner of the basement space once occupied by the Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre (hence the sign), they were permitted to keep Dreamland open due to its success.
A microcinema is both small — Dreamland can currently seat just 21 people — and a theater that highlights low-budget, arthouse, international, and experimental movies, like David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” Dreamland also curates several film series, like “Homo Arigato” that spotlights the queer film canon. For now, screenings are Thurs.-Sun., with the theater also open to private rentals.
Tish comes from a storied background in film programming, having worked at Austin’s influential Alamo Drafthouse + at SXSW, among others. Locals may recognize Lauren — she was part of the defunct Sac band Agent Ribbons — before moving to Texas and starting a retail business. The Dreamland Cinema is a homecoming for her, and she oversees the handpicked goods at the concession stand.
“What we’re doing is very specific,” Tish said. “We want to create a community, one where you get to know us, each other, and a place where we can build a hub for film lovers, filmmakers, and aspiring creators.”