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About our Name

When you set out to do the impossible, it helps to find a source for inspiration…

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Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954), the legendary Mexican painter and central figure in revolutionary Mexican politics and twentieth-century art, is renowned for her magnificent body of surreal, symbolic, and deeply personal art. What is less known about Kahlo is the incredible saga of integrity and perseverance inherent to her life’s story. In 1925, at the age of eighteen, Kahlo was involved in a tragic streetcar accident where she suffered multiple fractures to her spine, foot, and pelvic bones, spending the rest of her life struggling against severe pain and disability. Where for some this would have been enough to lose oneself to despair, Kahlo turned to art to communicate her physical suffering, as well as her passions for Mexican politics and for the love of her life, Diego Rivera, whom she married in 1929. 

A consummate creator until her death at 47, Kahlo’s inspiring resoluteness and individualism has led to her becoming a leading icon for both the LGBT and feminist movements, as well as for the greater conversation of self-expression through art. When we set out to open The Frida Cinema, we aligned our mission to two core commitments – we would never compromise on our vision, and we would never give up. The very concept was audacious, at a time when cinemas were facing the dual challenges of industry-wide digital convergence and increasingly popular streaming services, and we knew there would be many more to come. Even before we opened, it was suggested that we run mainstream Hollywood movies to survive, or that we only run art house cinema in one screen, and big-budget Hollywood films in the other. 

We were steadfast in adhering to our mission, and inspired by both the Mexican and Artist communities that call Downtown Santa Ana home, we christened ourselves after a hero in the arts that we could look up to, and find strength and inspiration in, for those moments where we would certainly need it.

“Yo nací puta, yo nací pintora.” / “I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.”


The Frida Cinema houses two Barco SP4K-12C 4K laser projectors, and 7.1 Dolby Sound.  We present our films on various digital formats, depending on what format is made available from a film’s distributor. The vast majority of our films are presented on industry-standard DCP’s (Digital Cinema Packages), which is our preferred and standard method of digital exhibition. Both of our projectors and surround sound systems are configured to Oppo theatrical-grade media players, allowing us to work with micro-distributors, genre repertory distributors, and student and low-budget filmmakers to provide quality presentations off Blu-ray, hard drives, and even laptops when necessary.

We are currently raising funds to install a 35mm reel-to-reel system, so that we can present select archival 35mm prints! Check back for updates!

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