Screen If You Want To Go Faster

A sure way to access the artists, hipsters, alternative cultures and the underground creative pulse of any given city is to get yourself to an independent, arthouse cinema. Matt Charlton recommends top screens.

Kino Babylon
Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 30, 10178 Berlin

If you wish to be transported back to Berlin’s golden age of jazz, Art Deco and Expressionism, shimmy along to this authentic 1920s cinema complete with original silent-era organ, just off the concrete jungle of Alexanderplatz, in the Mitte neighbourhood. There are marathons of modern franchises such as ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Lord of the Rings', but make sure to get yourself to one of their silent movie screenings, where the likes of Fritz Lang’s  ‘Metropolis’, or Chaplin’s ‘The Gold Rush’ are accompanied by their in-house orchestra.

Astor Film Lounge
Am Sandtorkai 46a, 20457 Hamburg

A mere six-minute walk from our HafenCity hotel, in this blustery and buzzing harbour city, the Astor Film Lounge is a luxurious refuge. Its pure class all the way with popcorn, cold snacks and a generous cocktail menu. Once you’re all loaded up from the considerate concession and cocktail stand, you can sink into a reclining armchair with plenty of leg room, and enjoy everything from the current blockbusters to classics which have been dusted off and bunged onto Dolby Atmos and 4K laser projectors.

Gothersgade 55, 1123 Copenhagen

Danes are great at making shadowy and brooding Scandi Noir, so be sure to expect plenty of this in Cinemateket, located in the Danish Film Institute. On the first floor you will find one of the world’s most extensive libraries of film and television literature, but the main event takes place in one of the three cinemas, using the first names of leading figures in Danish film history: Carl (Theodor Dreyer), Asta (Nielsen) and Benjamin (Christensen). In there, you’ll find a fastidiously curated roster of classic and contemporary cinema.

Black Box
Schulstraße 4, 40213 Düsseldorf

Named after the ‘Ride on Time’ Italian hit-makers (not really, but imagine), not only does this subsidised cinema have a huge focus on film history and retrospectives, preceded by an introduction by employees, but it is part of a film museum. The interactive experience tells the fascinating history of the silver screen… let’s not forget that the German movie industry was a main rival to Hollywood early on. Curated and presented with love, their programme ranges from 1927’s ‘Circus Beely’ via ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ and right up to ‘Nope’.

Weisshaus Kino
Luxemburger Str. 253, 50939 Köln

The Weisshaus Kino shows everything from wherever we’re up to with the Marvel Universe now (‘Avengers: Dismantle’?) to the latest arthouse offering where a man shouts at a brick for three hours… probably. There’s a fantastic retro entrance hall which dates back to the 1950s-thankfully the snacks on offer don’t. It also hosts the ‘Movie Pearls on Friday’ series, where they pluck a cinema classic from their vaults and give it another whirl on their projector. Past showings have included ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, ‘La La Land’, and ‘Jane Eyre’.

Cinema Akil
Warehouse 68, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai

The Gulf Tiger’s first arthouse cinema is suitably located in Dubai’s creative district-a former industrial zone that now hosts a variety of art galleries, studios and record shops. Cinema Akil has been designed with a reclaimed vintage feel to offer a sense of sanctuary in a very shiny metropolis. There are a variety of film festivals and popup events, showcasing cinema which would otherwise not be screened in Dubai, ranging from independent Palestinian short films, to lesser-known Latin American titles, and even the likes of ‘Home Alone’.

Cinema Paradiso
Piazza di S. Paolino, 1, 50123 Firenze

If you’re reading the hallowed pages of this magazine in your room at the wonderful 25hours Piazza San Paolino, then you are sitting very close to one of the best boutique cinemas in Florence. Under vaulted brick ceilings, Cinema Paradiso shows films every Sunday… there’s not even an entry fee. Plus, if you fancy a meat platter or a bottle of Tuscan wine whilst watching a stone-cold classic, then just ask, and kick back in the squashy comfort of your own armchair

Mal Sehn
Adlerflychtstraße 6, 60318 Frankfurt

You almost feel as if you’ve stumbled into someone’s (very nice) house upon arriving at this friendly and much-loved cinema. Showing films from all over the world, mostly in the original, non-dubbed versions with German subtitles, the single screen, 80-seat theatre also shows documentaries, and provides a platform for local film makers. There is an adjoining cafe so you can discuss everything you’ve just seen over a cappuccino, or indeed a glass of wine if it’s been a particularly upsetting film… like the opening ten minutes of ‘Up!’.

Museum Lichtspiele
Lilienstraße 2, 81669 München

Whether you’re into Science Fiction or double features, it’s time to do the Time Warp again when you visit this utterly idiosyncratic picture house. The cinema is the oldest in the city, and, as you may have guessed from the subtle hints, goes heavy on the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ theme, with the movie itself being shown every Friday and Saturday night since 1977, giving the cinema an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. Asides from Rocky, it has a great program of cult classics and blockbusters in their original languages.

Burg Kino
Opernring 19, 1010 Wien

Vienna being the home of Freud, you could just argue this is all a matter of projection. Ahem, Sorry. One of the oldest cinemas in Europe, the Burg Kino has an innate charm and friendliness that the Vue Leicester Sq. would struggle to match. It has always specialised in screening foreign films in their original language, and this policy continues to this very day.  Also, if cinemas had residencies, then ‘The Third Man’. would be Burg Kino’s star turn. The cinema holds regular screenings of the Vienna-set film, as well as special events, such as a live screening of the Oscars.

Paris Le Luouxor
170 Bd de Magenta, 75010 Paris

Paris is the home of the moving image. The first ever public screening took place in 1895 at the Grande Café. Le Louxor is a grande dame of cinemas, built in the fashionable neo-Egyptian style in 1921, and now a historic landmark. Once threatened with demolition, it was saved and reopened to the public in 2013, and since that time it has been a hub for cinema lovers. With three screens, one of which is the original theatre on two levels with an orchestra pit, Le Louxor also has a bar serving cold cuts, cheeses, soups and salads. FIN.

Neugasse 57-63, 8005 Zürich

This cinema has been around in one way or another for over a century. Existing in its present form since 1998, it is an important hub in the Zurich cultural scene, with four screens, a bar, and, since 2021, a popular dining spot in the shape of Bistro Riffraff, you come for the movies and stay for the ambience. The projection beam for one of the theatres even runs though the space of the Bistro… they like to inject a little bit of silver screen magic into every element of your experience.

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