Wenceslas Square is the live and pulsing heart of Prague and - in the words of Italian singer-songwriter Giorgio Gaber: “so full of window displays, shops, posters that get bigger and bigger,” that it may seem quite unlike Prague to the visitor in search of the Renaissance or signs of the troubled XXth century.
But only two steps away from the Square, at the Kino Světozor, our traveller seeking destinations off the beaten track will be able to find a place where history communicates with the present. Founded in 1918, soon transformed into a cabaret, returned to its original use in 1957, it became internationally famous in 1968 when, for a year and a half, it was home to the Kino Automat, i.e. the experiment in interactive cinema exhibited in the Czechoslovak Pavilion, at the International and Universal Exhibition in Montreal, Expo 67.
Today the Světozor has evolved from the panoramic cinema it was in the '50s, to a city art-house miniplex that concentrates on the quality of its programming, avantgarde technology and customer services.
Indeed, since its reopening in 2004, the cinema has enjoyed the support of a loyal audience, which has gradually made it into the most widely attended non-multiplex cinema in the country. Besides screening quality, contemporary, art-house films, in its two digitally-equipped auditoriums, Světozor also hosts a wide range of festivals and offers live broadcasts of the worlds’ finest theatre and opera performances. An important part of Světozor’s identity is its film-shop “Terry Posters”, named after its godfather, Terry Gilliam. “Terry Posters” is not only the name of a shop offering all kinds of goods related to quality films (posters, books, dvds, clothes etc.), but also a giant archive of the unique history of Czechoslovakian art-film posters from the years 1960-1989, comprising over 90,000 posters of 15,000 kinds. The Světozor offers its audiences a variety of initiatives plus a bar and café with Wi-Fi Internet and their own brew of beer with the same name - the lager Světozor, brewed in the town of Nová Paka.
The Světozor is part of Aeropolis, a small but dynamic art-house cinema chain, which has also started up its own version of Secret Cinema. But we shall deal with this in our next issue.
was founded in 2012 by two experienced cinema operators, David Horacek and David Jelinek, former Palace Cinema managers. The chain consists of 3 multiplex cinemas - in Prague, Olomouc and Teplice. The Prague cinema was rebuilt on the site of the existing cinema, which had opened back in 2000 and which has now been completely refurbished and modernised. The Olomouc and Teplice theatres are located in newly opened shopping centres. Premiere Cinemas claims its cinemas are the most modern in the Czech Republic - the Prague is the only multiplex cinema in the country fully equipped with Sony 4K digital projectors, using Sony 3D digital technology and revolutionary 3D sound Dolby Atmos. Atmos sound is also an advanced technological feature used at the Olomouc site, together with Barco 4K projectors and 3D DepthQ. The cinemas present mainstream feature movies, together with Premiere Art for specific audiences; cinemas also work closely with families and child audiences, too, creating the Fairy-Tale Sunday formula.
Cinema Aero is one of the oldest art-house cinemas in Prague built in 1933 in the courtyard of a residential house in a purely functionalist style. In the 1990's it was a legendary film club with a program consisting mainly of premiere art films and classic film retrospectives. Now it is a strong single screen cinema where you can find a selection of current film premieres and specialized film festivals (focusing on specific directors, countries or film genres). The most popular festival is The Shockproof Film Festival, which features a range of obscure Z-movies, taking place in Aero every February. Getting (still) more and more popular are live transmissions from the Metropolitan opera in New York, the National Theatre in London or Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon in Cinema Aero program. An important part of the cinema is also the bar - where you can discuss the fresh film experiences right after watching the film on our screen. The bar premises also function as a gallery of film posters.
At the moment the Lumière in Bratislava is showing the Italian titles included in their Dolcevitaj event, the most recent European films, as well as classics ranging from Apocalypse Now to masterpieces of Russian cinema. The Kino Lumière is far more than just a cinema: it is not only a landmark for quality films in the Slovakian capital, but also the heart of a real pole of cinema for the conservation and enjoyment of national and international film heritage. Located in the city centre between the banks of the Danube and the Presidential Palace, this modern building houses four screens, seating a total of 400 spectators, as well as the national film archive and - a real carnation in their buttonhole - an avant-garde audiovisual centre. The structure was built thanks partly to funds provided by the European Union and covers a broad area of over 700 square metres that had remained empty after having been used as a pub for many years. The rebuilding work began in 2011 and since 2014, thanks to an initiative by the Slovakian Film Foundation, an ambitious project has been underway for digitalizing the whole of Slovak national film production, from its very beginnings onwards. The objective is to exploit the new technologies not only for conserving films, but also to make it easier for them to be screened for the general public through various channels, starting from the big screen. The project is being carried out by a team of eighty specialists, headed by Peter Csordás and provided with excellent equipment, starting with a 4K Barco projector connected to a colour grading system. They have already succeeded in digitalizing over half of the titles on the agenda. "Our objective is to convert 1,000 films to digital in five years, with the intention of contributing to safeguarding European cinema culture and ensuring that when 35mm projectors have become a complete rarity there will always be opportunities - indeed more of them - to get to know the masterpieces of the past."
Cultural Center at Žižkov Freight Railway Station. The industrial heritage site hosts NFA (National Film Archive) open air Summer cinema, as well as theatre performances, several exhibitions and public discussions.
Ponrepo-Bio Konvikt Kino
Ponrepo is a cinema of the National Film Archive in which films from the collections of the NFA are mainly screened.
Cinema Ponrepo housed in a historically valuable refectory of a boarding school, Konvikt, in Prague's Old Town. In the 14th century it was the location of the Jerusalem House with Chapel of Mary Magdalene, which was founded after 1375 by Jan Milíč for penitent women. Later it was the venue of an organ school, one of whose pupils was Antonín Dvořák, who became the school's director after graduation.
The Konvikt Hall became one of the main cultural centres of Prague in late 18th and 19th century. Many prominent Czech and foreign musicians performed here, including Ludwig van Beethoven, who played there in 1798, Franz Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, Richard Wagner, Czech violin virtuosos Ferdinand Laub and František Ondříček, and the pianist and composer Jan Ladislav Dusík. Balls and occasional theatre performances and exhibitions were held here.
In modern times Prague inhabitants started to go to the then very popular cinema, BIO KONVIKT. After 1945, the modified auditorium housed the puppet film studio of Jiří Trnka, who made the Czech film industry famous throughout the world.
Karel Zeman Museum