Prague’s Underground Cinemas

Prague’s Underground Cinemas

A few years back, I ranked the Top 10 Cinemas in Prague. That list hasn’t changed much, though I’d bump up Bio Ponrepo, which has been recently renovated and now features an excellent little cafe.

In the warmer months, there are also a number of great Summer Cinemas in Prague that open up and allow viewers to take in a movie under the stars.

Still too mainstream? I hesitate to call all of the venues below “cinemas” given their widely divergent setups, but these alternative, off-the-beaten-path joints just might offer up a different kind of cinematic experience than Prague’s more familiar multiplexes and art houses.

You might have to lower your projection standards a bit – many of these locations will project movies from DVD sources – but they also might offer the opportunity to catch something on the (semi-) big screen that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere. 

Given the nature of the venues below, schedules and availability are likely to change – check websites/Facebook pages to confirm showtimes. 

Cinema Royal

Photo: Facebook / Cinema Royal
Photo: Facebook / Cinema Royal

Prague’s “secret” cinema. Every few months, organizers plan a screening of a mystery film in an unknown location, and leave clues for fans on Facebook and through email to discover what the film is and where the screening will be held. It looks like a lot of fun, but also seems like a lot of work. (Royal’s last six films: Seven, AlienTotal RecallModern TimesKing Kong, and Flashdance). website | facebook

ERA Art Club

This hidden venue in the center of town – located at Jungmannovo náměstí – screens films every other Tuesday. This month: Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Quest for Fire (April 14), Tim Burton’s Big Fish (April 28). website | facebook

NaFilm: National Film Museum

Photo: Facebook / NaFilm
Photo: Facebook / NaFilm

From May 2015, Museum Montanelli on Neruda street will transform into the fledgling National Film Museum for half a year. The project, started by Charles University students who wanted to bring classic cinema out of the archives and into public view, raised 200,000 CZK through crowdfunding on HitHit.cz. While more of a museum than a cinema, English-friendly exhibitions of classic Czech films can be expected. website | facebook 

Cinema Ladislav

This super-casual Prague 7 cinema run by a garrulous proprietor (check out his blog here) screens a film per week, each following a monthly theme. Movies are announced only a few days in advance; this April’s subjects dedicated to “Salvation” have included Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly and John Michael McDonagh’s Calvarywebsite | facebook

The Globe Bookstore

An expat mainstay that has become known for their community events, The Globe holds a free movie screening every Sunday night. April 12: Seth Macfarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West. Check their Facebook page for weekly schedules. Bonus: this is one of the very few (only?) Prague venues to broadcast the late-late night (European time) Oscar telecast each year. website | facebook

Royal

Photo: Le Royal
Photo: Le Royal

Formerly Bio Illusion on Vinohradská (my favorite Prague cinema until it closed its doors in 2006), this unique venue is better known for their Burlesque nights, but they’ll also hold intermittent film screenings. This month: Days of European Film. Note: not to be confused with the secret cinema listed above. website | facebook

American Center

The American Center at the U.S. Embassy in Prague holds English-friendly film screenings every Tuesday night. In April, films include Elegy, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ray. Free admission. website

La Fabrika

Photo: Facebook / La Fabrika
Photo: Facebook / La Fabrika

This performing arts venue is better known for their theatrical productions, but they’ll also occasionally hold a film screening. I once caught a screening of the lost masterpiece Wings of Fame, starring Peter O’Toole and Colin Firth, at La Fabrika with Czech director Otakar Votoček in attendance. website | facebook

Městská knihovna (Filmový klub MKP)  

Prague’s City Library certainly isn’t an underground venue, but you may not be aware of its Film Club, which organizes monthly screenings of current films from local distributors alongside some independent fare, and projections that include a discussion. website 

Filmový klub ČVUT

Photo: Facebook / Filmový klub ČVUT
Photo: Facebook / Filmový klub ČVUT

The Film Club at the Czech Technical University in Prague is open not only to students, but also the general public. Films are screened free of charge every Thursday at 19:30 in room 209. website | facebook

Filmový klub VŠE

Similarly, the Film Club at the University of Economics holds intermittent screenings in one of their auditoriums equipped with a 35mm projector and Dolby Stereo sound. Coming up on April 14: the Swedish drama Force Majeurewebsite | facebook

AAU Film Club

This spring, a group of professors from the Anglo-American University in Prague will be screening a film of their choosing at the University’s Library for a film series called “Guilty Pleasures.” Sounds tempting. facebook

Autokino Fabia

Drive-in isn’t dead! Or maybe it is: this Škoda project doesn’t have a website or even a Facebook page. Once in a while, however, they’ll hold a free drive-in screening at Prague 4’s Freestyle Park Modřany, behind the Hodkovičky Golf Club. Check showtimes for potential screenings (but don’t hold your breath).  

Cultural Centers:

French Institute – Kino 35

Photo: French Institute Prague
Photo: French Institute Prague

The French Institute’s Kino 35 has entered the mainstream realm, with multiple screenings daily and high projection standards. While most of the below venues screen films in their country’s native languages with Czech subtitles, Kino 35 also offers some English-friendly fare. website | facebook

Goethe Institut

The German-language institute in Prague offers occasional film screenings, typically in German with Czech subtitles. website | facebook

Cervantes Institute

In addition to a variety of other cultural events, Prague’s Spanish-language institute holds a film screening every Wednesday. website

Studio BÉLA

Photo: Facebook / Studio BÉLA
Photo: Facebook / Studio BÉLA

While the cinema at Prague’s Hungarian Institute typically focuses on Hungarian-language films, they also offer some more international fare. This month, you can catch the director’s cut of Alien and Xavier Dolan’s French-language Mommy in addition to the Hungarian drama White God, which made a splash at last year’s Cannes festival. website | facebook

Ruské středisko vědy a kultury

The Russian Center for Science and Culture in Prague 6 holds frequent screenings of classic and contemporary Russian films in their large hall. Free admission. website | facebook

Klub cestovatelů 

This restaurant and tearoom (with some pretty good Lebanese dishes!) also holds classes on belly dancing and typically screens a weekly film about travelling or foreign culture. Watch their Facebook page for dates & times. Admission: 60 CZK. website | facebook

KD Dobeška

In addition to concerts, theater performances, art exhibitions, and more, this multipurpose Prague 4 venue also holds occasional film screening (“Kinokavárna”) each Wednesday. This month: Magic in the Moonlight, Walesa: Man of Hope, Out of Nature, and Sambawebsite | facebook

Kino Evropský dům

Every second Wednesday, this cinema at the EU community center on Jungmannovo screens a film free of charge. This month, as part of the Days of European Film fest, they’re showing BOBO and Hasta la vista! website | facebook

KC Kaštan (Unijazz)

This former inn at Strahov has been repurposed for community events. Alongside concerts, festivals, and theater performances, this month they’re screening the student film Lovu Zdar! and Alice Nellis’ recent documentary Adopce: Konkurz na rodičewebsite | facebook


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Jason Pirodsky

Hailing from Syracuse, New York, Jason Pirodsky made his way to Prague via Miami and has stuck around, for better and worse, since 2004. A member of the Online Film Critics Society (www.ofcs.org), some of his favorite movies include O Lucky Man!, El Topo, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Hellzapoppin'. Follow him on Twitter for some (slightly) more concise reviews.

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