Budapest is well-worth a tour for art lovers, and while its malls are typically home to the grand cinema chains and the bombast that comes with them, the city also has quite a selection of art cinemas that are worth a visit, too…
Of all the cinemas on this list, Művész Mozi – literally meaning ‘Artist Cinema’ – is the one that best offers the ‘feeling’ of an art cinema. A large part of this is the interesting decor with its mosaic walls and art deco flooring. With five screens of varying sizes – the maximum fitting 172 people – and a prime location on the main boulevard running through downtown Pest, it’s certainly a popular venue.
Part of the venue’s popularity stems from the fact that the cinema typically shows films in their original language, with Hungarian or English subtitles depending on the situation. This is an increasing preference for younger Hungarians, who aren’t especially fond of magyar dubbing. The fact that the foyer is also home to a cozy cafe with alcoholic drinks, a bookstore and even local handcrafted jewelry makes it a complete package.
With an eclectic range of events, Toldi is one of the more adaptable art cinemas in the city. It’s a club, a concert hall, a speakeasy bar, a cafe and a venue for specialised events. It’s really got it all, and as a result, has built up something of a community surrounding it – a place where friends might plan to meet up just to see what’s going on.
As for the cinema itself, it’s typically home to more indie, foreign language or art films rather than the big blockbuster movies from Hollywood. And when it does show something from America, the showings are impeccable in choice, ensuring only high-quality movies.
Kino Cafe Mozi
If you visited Kino Cafe without any prior knowledge of it, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t immediately notice that it doubles as an art cinema. Access to the two screens is behind a rather inconspicuous door within the cafe, though the screens themselves can handle a good number of people. Since it’s so small, it only shows a handful of films at any one time, and so the need to be picky means it favours Hungarian-language movies or more emotive, Oscar-worthy titles – all in their original language, and typically with English subtitles for the showings that need it.
But Kino Cafe is worth a visit just for the cafe, too. Its cheesecakes and smoothies do not disappoint. It’s located directly beside the Vígszínház, or Comedy Theatre, making it especially pleasant on a warm day to sit outside and enjoy one of the cafe’s omelettes.
Uránia Film Theatre
The history of the Uránia is vast, first opening as a nightclub in 1894 before being used for presentations with moving pictures for the Uránia Scientific Society in 1899. The venue would go on to start showing movies in 1917, when it was revamped to allow for film projectors. As you might expect from such a historic building, the interior is quite grand.
This is the sort of place that still has curtains that need to be drawn before the film starts, recreating the old school vibe of cinema-going. The accompanying retro-styled cafe and ornate interior add to the grandeur. These days, it’s home to a whole spectrum of films, but is used just as often as a conference hall, for film festivals and even as the location of the University of Theatre and Film Arts.
The range of Puskin is perhaps its greatest asset, highlighted by the fact that its biggest screen can seat 225 patrons, while the smallest fits an intimate 15 guests. It’s the largest screen that impresses the most, with vintage-style bulbs lighting up the gold-painted decorative features and classy marble columns lining either side of the room.
Every aspect of the building is reminiscent of the golden age of cinema, and it doesn’t slack when it comes to the selection of films, either. You likely won’t find the biggest blockbusters here – sadly those are typically limited to the cinema chains – but it still has enough of the bigger titles from Hollywood that Puskin, when combined with its authentic décor, is a must-see option. The venue even arranges and hosts events for children, with Puskin Kucko.
Budapest Rooftop Cinema
While not really an art cinema, throughout the warmer months, Budapest Rooftop Cinema hosts events atop the old Soviet shopping centre at Corvin Club. The films screened are typically older classics from across the ages, but there’s space for plenty of visitors and the unique setting makes for a pleasant evening. There are even festivals over the summer months dedicated to animation, shorts and foreign titles – so much so that there’s always something unique or interesting to watch each week, free from the pomp of Hollywood.