Kino guide 2023: Where to watch English-friendly films in Prague

From arthouse indie fare to blockbusters in the original English, a guide to the most expat-friendly cinemas in the Czech capital. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 09.03.2023 13:03:00 (updated on 09.03.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

One drawback film fans face in Prague is that many Czech and other European films lack English subtitles. But there are several Prague cinemas that regularly show films with them, and there are also festivals that show international films. A few projects also show classic Czech films with English subtitles.

Filmgoers need to check the schedule before buying tickets, so they aren’t disappointed.

Some of the more centrally located multiplexes will have some Czech films with English subtitles or animation in the original English version, but generally, they cater more to the Czech audience. One exception is Cinema City Slovanský dům, which hosts the annual Febiofest, a festival of international films. They make a consistent effort to have some subtitled Czech films.

Several of the smaller cinemas and art houses make a more consistent effort at reaching out to the English-speaking audience.

What to look for:

  • Most theaters use the symbol AT for “anglické titulky” to denote English subtitles, while ČV or ČD warns you the film is in a Czech version or has Czech dubbing. Usually, only children’s films or big action films are dubbed. ČT means the film has Czech subtitles. Some cinemas can show both at once, and will mark a film as ČT/AT.
  • For festivals, sometimes the schedule will note that all films are English-friendly, meaning they are either in English or have subtitles.
  • The VO symbol notes that the film is in the original version, so for many Hollywood or British films, this would mean they are shown in English. One catch though, is that if characters speak a few lines of Spanish, for example, a film will most likely have Czech but not English subtitles.

The art house quartet

When it comes to art films and festivals, one group stands out above the rest. Světozor, Aero, Bio Oko, and Přítomnost are all under the same management, and the parent company Aero now distributes some titles.

Světozor, located just off of Wenceslas Square, is the most serious of the bunch, while the Aero and Bio Oko are more like local neighborhood hangouts where people go for a coffee or beer even when they are not seeing the film. Přítomnost, the newest of the group, is a boutique cinema in Žižkov where people can sit at small tables with a beverage or snack while watching a film. Conveniently, the cinema websites let people filter for English friendly-shows and often warn when a popular title is not.

Entrance to Světozor. Photo: Facebook, Kino Světozor
Entrance to Světozor. Photo: Facebook, Kino Světozor

Aero currently is home to the Some Like it Czech series, which presents classic Czech films for an English-speaking audience. Other ongoing series at Aero, Bio Oko, and Světozor include operas from the Met, live or recorded plays from the U.K., and recorded rock or pop concerts.

Flanking Wenceslas Square

Edison Filmhub, located in a former electrical substation building (hence the name Edison) also tends to have a lot of especially European films with English subtitles. The weirdly named ongoing series Movie Barf has its home there, and often brings interesting analysts or filmmakers to discuss the films.

The grand old lady of the Prague cinema scene is kino Lucerna, whose large hall still retains most of its Art Nouveau charm from when it opened in 1909. There is a smaller hall as well that once was a private screening room for VIPs. Many film festivals make this place their home due to its large capacity, as well as the cinema cafe, adjacent gallery, and upstairs Marble Hall, which all can host parties and receptions.

Interior of kino Lucerna. (photo: Facebook)
Interior of kino Lucerna. Photo: Facebook

Gems from the archive and hidden venues

An overlooked gem is Ponrepo, the screening room of the National Film Archive. They often show rare films that aren’t seen anywhere else. Restored Czech classics now often have subtitles, and are noted as "English friendly." But older films, especially ones shown from 35 mm film, usually are in Czech or have only Czech subtitles.

The schedule often has obscure decades-old American or British films in the mix. Years ago, you needed to be a member to go there, but that is no longer the case.

Two cinemas downtown that also have the occasional festival or English-friendly film are Evald and MAT. They often can sell out due to their size. MAT currently has an ongoing series of ballet and opera from the U.K.

At the edge of Karlín, Atlas will reopen on March 21 with a schedule of art films, classics, cult films, and documentaries with lower-than-average ticket prices. Evenings with filmmakers and other personalities are planned. The new operators of Atlas will open up a second screening hall, enlarge the cafe, and add an art gallery. There is no word yet, though, on how many of the films will be English-friendly.

The trendy Vršovice neighborhood is home to Kino Pilotů has three small halls and a popular bar. The schedule on occasion has films with English subtitles and the occasional festival. It also has a program of recent films at discount prices, which often sell out in advance. On occasion, the cinema distributes art films or documentaries.

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