The magic of the small cinema

A good deal for movie buffs with limited Polish is that most movies in Krakow and other cities are in their original language with translated subtitles.

The exception is animated films and cartoons, which are dubbed into Polish.
Krakow has many cinemas to choose from, ranging from big, modern multiplexes to small, cozy places with long histories.
In contrast to the large ones, the small theaters offer quieter atmospheres, with a minimum of loud audience conversations, ringing mobiles or rustling packets of chips or popcorn. They?re also easy to find because most are in the city center.
Here are some you can start with:
Cinema Center ARS, ul. Sw. Jana 6, just off Market Square. This venerable theater has been showing movies for 90 years.
It offers them in five rooms. The smallest is the Salon, with 18 seats. The largest is the Sztuka (Art), with 237.
The most interesting showing room is the Kiniarnia, a combination cinema and café, where movie-goers sit around tables and buy snacks and drinks from the bar. Only a few cinemas in Poland offer such a venue.
An unusual attraction that many ARS fans like is its Mysterious Special Preview, or Tajemniczy Pokaz Specjalny. Every two weeks the theater shows a movie without saying in advance what it will be. Many are brand-new releases.
Tickets to ARS showings can be purchased at the theater or may be reserved by phone or Internet. Prices are cheaper for Monday showings.
Pod Baranami, 27 Market Square (Rynek Glowny 27). This historic building has three showing rooms: the Red, Blue and Green ? or Czerwona, Niebieska and Zielona. Old projectors and other trappings of film history give the place an artsy touch.
Pod Baranami offers promotions that are hits with many fans.
One is Marathon Nights. Each night features films with the same theme. Examples are a Valentine?s Night, Takeshi Kitano Night and Hindu Night.
Another popular attraction is a series of films in the same foreign language. The offerings are all in Chinese, for example, or Spanish, Dutch, Slovakian, or whatever. 
Still another twist on the theme offerings are movies from only one director, including Poland?s Jan Jakub Kolski and such foreign directors as Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodovar and Tom Tykwer.
Because the Pod Baranami is a place where artists of all types meet and work, those who arrive early for film showings have a chance to talk with them.
You can buy movie tickets at Pod Baranami itself or by phone. Showings are cheaper on Mondays.
Pasaz, or Passage, is at 9 Market Square (Rynek Glowny 9). It is the smallest of the small-theater venues. They have two showing rooms ? one with 19 seats and one with 55.)
Pasaz offers a varied repertoire, with a slight edge to European movies.
Besides brand-new releases, it shows films that are at the end of their runs at bigger theaters and older films. It also shows movies that never hit big theaters and alternative films.
A nice feature of Pasaz is that it has been renovated to accommodate disabled movie fans.
Mikro, or Micro, is one of the smaller theaters outside the Old Town area. It is at ul. Juliusza Lea 5.
Mikro is part of a chain of theaters that focus on artistic movies, as opposed to movies that simply tell a story. Their showings attract many well-educated young people.
Mikro, which has been around for 20 years, has 121 exceptionally comfortable seats. Its offerings include previews, retrospectives of famous directors and movies from film festivals. Tickets can be purchased at the theater, by phone or by Internet. Showings are cheaper on Mondays.
Cinema Kijow, or Cinema Kiev, is at 34 Krasinski Avenue. Although it has Krakow?s largest theater hall, with 828 seats, it has small showing rooms as well.
It?s no surprise that, because its main hall is so big, it offers many blockbuster movies. But it also has other offerings.
One of its specialties is ENEMEFs, or all-night movie marathons on one theme.
It also shows movies from Krakow?s Film Festival — Attraction to Cinema (Pociag do Kina). The festival is very specific in its choice of films. All movies are ?art? genre.
Occasionally, however, filmed concerts are also included.
Its small, intimate Studio showing room accommodates 32 movie fans who prefer classic, art or historic films, or films in certain categories, such as socrealistic.
Many of the films are old Communist propaganda pieces depicting workers building factories or apartments, farmers working in the fields, or ordinary people helping the secret police ferret out ?imperialist? and ?capitalist? spies.Most were made between 1947 and 1956.
If movie fans can put together a group large enough to fill Studio, they can choose a film of their own to watch. Kijow can also import a film that isn?t in its repertoire, if those who want to see it agree to pay for renting it from the distributor.
Tickets may be purchased at the theater or by phone or Internet.
Two small theaters with terrific prices are Paradox and Sfinx.
Paradox, on ul. Krowoderska 8, has prices starting at 6 zloty.
Sfinx, on os. Gorali 5 (Highlander?s Estate) in Nowa Huta, offers group discounts. For example, if you buy three tickets, you get a fourth free. And if you buy more than six tickets, you get each for 7 zloty. The cinema seats 98. It is open every day except Monday.

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