There is a pivotal moment in the Italian film Cinema Paradiso where a fire ravages the local movie theatre and all appears lost. Our film’s boy hero Salvatore manages to save the projectionist’s life and the subsequent bond and the theatres influence upon a small post-war village is detailed in this 1988 cult classic from director Giuseppe Tornatore.

The power of a local movie art house to actively affect its surroundings is also evident with our very own cinematic jewel, Kino Aero, Biskupcova 31.

Pro Aero s.r.o (For Aero) owns and operates one of the very few theatres committed entirely to innovative and cutting-edge film presentations. Ivo Andrle a film enthusiast and holder of International Finance degree opted out of a tailored suit to pursue the less tested waters of avant-garde cinema as a partner in this venture.

All of Prague city districts provide subsidies for cultural endeavors such as theirs, but only the councilmen of the forward thinking Zizkov have approved direct tax breaks, grants, and rent reductions to ensure the cinema’s impact is felt.

Aero’s goal is to offer a line up of independent titles through director’s retrospectives and mini-festivals with tickets under 100Kc.

“A film club leaning towards the underground” is how the soft-spoken Andrle describes it to me.

“The interest in independent films has surged since 2010, in April we will host the first ever Korean film program here in Prague, a few years ago, we couldn’t dream of that.”

Thursday’s host another experiment entitled “Brave Audience” which features three days from the “schlock / B-movie” genre. Evil Dead, Cannibal Holocaust, and John Waters Pink Flamingo’s are amongst the unsavory cult classics.

Another example of art seeping into the community is an annual film competition with just locally shot features. The winners score camera equipment and much deserved screen time.

April’s Pilire Citlivosti (Pillars of Sensibility) program was a response by mailing list questionnaire as to which films shaped the personalities of regular customers. The odd winners to be shown include several Kung-Fu classics as well as the surreal and childlike Gappa.

Designed to appease distributors minimum rental requirements, The Tram 9 event links two additional theatres, Mat and Evald to the theatres extended family. They all lie on the historic Tram number 9 line and will be sharing titles of independents that have left the multiplexes already.

Last years acquisition of Prague 1’s Svetozor complex by sister company will attempt to solidify its position as the premiere art house cinema in the capital focusing more on weekly programs of popular classic titles. Fellini, Kubrick, Jaramush and Kurosawa will be screened through the newly installed Panasonic DLP Digital projectors. Some sound tweaking has also been implemented with more sophisticated hardware on the way. The venue’s smaller 55-seat theatre presents “Audiovisual” every Thursday, which will screen a pastiche of films with live commentary by their creators. Questions are encouraged as shorts, concert and animation films get to meet and talk with their audiences throughout March and April.

2005 events will include a Gay & Lesbian festival, Japanese Anime, Asian and Bollywood festivals and the Karlovy Vary re-screenings following that event. They are also actively seeking corporate sponsors to get in early, as public interest and ticket sales continue to escalate.

If your burnt on the slop Hollywood is churning out these days, have a peek at why cinema continues to excite and activate our scene hands on!

Tim’s Top 5 Art House Kino’s:

1) Aero

2) Oko

3) Svetezor

4) Mat

5) Evald

Tim Otis hosts High Fidelity live every Friday from 8-10 p.m. on Radio 1, 91.9 FM.

Tim Otis

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