Taiwan Fun Magazine, April 2006

Taipei House (Spot Cinema)

18, ZhongShan North Road, Sec. 2; (02) 2511-7786
Hours: Tues-Sun 11 am-1 am
Credit cards accepted at bookstore and restaurant

--By Julia Koprak Translated by Liu Fang Ru

"J'aime le cinema"--I like the cinema. So simple, yet so true. If you're up for a taste of film culture, check out the Taipei House, a picturesque haven in the midst of the posh hotels and brand-name stores on ZhongShan North Road.
The building itself is a symbol of Taipei's history. The two-story Western-style mansion served as the home to many American ambassadors until 1979, when the U.S. Embassy in Taiwan shut down. After being deserted for many years, it was registered as a municipal historic site in 1997 and, in 2002 under the management of legendary director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, was designated a "site where the combination of a quaint charm of a historic site and cinematography turns into a locus of interacting creativity".

Walk through the gates and you'll find a theater, bookstore, exhibition hall, cafe and restaurant, all centered around a lovely garden. Spot Cinema is one of the few locations in Taipei where you can see independent films from all over the world. The cinema is also the host of many film festivals, workshops and question-and-answer sessions with well-known directors. Each week two films are featured, and tickets range between NT$150 and NT$220. To further stimulate your brain cells, peruse through the wide collection of film books, soundtracks and classic DVDs in the bookstore, and walk around the exhibition hall upstairs.
Then take a few steps over to the C25 Cafe for a bite. The menu features light fare including huge salads and delectable quiches (NT$120-180), and you can sit in a closed-in balcony or under the umbrellas outside. If you want to go more upscale, head to The 6th Avenue restaurant upstairs, which has a nice view and an extensive selection of international wines (lunch NT$320-390, dinner NT$380-650). The restaurant also features a beautiful private group room.

The next time you want to plop yourself in front of the big screen, set aside a few hours and head over to the Taipei House.