A Short Guide to Independent and Art Cinemas in Croatia

Total Croatia News

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Photo: Luis Quintero/Pexels
Photo: Luis Quintero/Pexels

“The bad thing about cinemas in Croatia is that the movies have no subtitles,” is frequently heard. Half true, half false. If they are local films, they will be shown in Croatian and without subtitles. If they are international films, they will be screened in their original language and with Croatian subtitles. For many, this can be demotivating, but as the director of movies like ‘Parasite’, ‘Memories of Murder’ or ‘The Host’, the great Bong Joon Ho once said: ”Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”. Yes, it is true that if you don’t speak or understand Croatian it will be very difficult for you to follow scene after scene of a local film. I say this from first-hand experience.

But all this is assuming that I am talking about big movie theater chains like Cinestar or Cineplexx. These cinemas have programming similar to the rest of the world, with the main Hollywood premieres, animated films, and the occasional independent film. However, there is a magical world waiting to be discovered in independent cinemas and art cinemas in Croatia. These cinemas not only serve occasionally as venues for important festivals or talks, but also have monthly programs rich in independent cinema and classic films. It may be that while you are in Croatia, one of these cinemas is screening a film in your language or even from your own country. If those stars do align, you should seriously consider living this experience!

Zlatna Vrata, Split

If there’s one thing you really should brag about to your friends, it’s that you saw a movie inside a 1,700-year-old Roman palace. Located at the north entrance of the palace, better known as the ”Golden Gate”, this small cinema bears the same name but in Croatian, ”Zlatna vrata”. If you walk down Dioklecijanova Street inside the Palace, it is very likely that you will come across its programming, posted on the same street. In June alone they had an excellent mix of films, such as a tribute to both Italian director Federico Fellini and French actress Isabelle Huppert, as well as an in memoriam to the late Greek composer Vangelis, and films belonging to the 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split. 

Some of the films that the Kinoteka Zlatna Vrata will screen this week are the following:

– Tuesday 5, 20:00 ”Nowhere Special”, 2020. Uberto Pasolini, 96 min. UK/IT/RU

– Wednesday 6, 20:00 ”Parallel Mothers” (Madres Paralelas), 2021. Pedro Almodovar, 123 min. ES/FR

– Thursday 7, 20:00 ”Never Rarely Sometimes”, 2020. Eliza Hittman, 101 min. US

– Friday 8, 20:00 ”House of Gucci”, 2021. Ridley Scott, 157 min. CA/US

– Saturday 9, 20:00 ”Goodfellas”, 1990. Martin Scorsese, 146 min. US


Image: Mediterranean Film Festival Split/Facebook

Art Kino, Rijeka

Art Kino literally translates to Art Cinema, and the one in Rijeka is one of the most recognized and respected in the whole country. Much loved by the local population, both young and old, Rijeka’s Art Kino makes superhuman efforts to create weekly and monthly programs that, in addition to including workshops and talks, seek to promote films from all over the world and also from young filmmakers, with the objective of bringing its inhabitants closer to the seventh art. The Art Kino, in addition to constantly showing films, is also the venue for renowned festivals such as the History Film Festival, as well as the Students International Film Festival. Click here to see this week’s program. 


Kino Tuškanac, Zagreb

It is difficult to choose just one cinema in the Croatian capital where people of all ages come together to enjoy the best of national and international cinema, even in its most unconventional forms. However, the Kino Tuškanac has positioned itself as one of the most important not only in Zagreb but throughout the country. And its importance is not only proven in its program, but in the events that take place there. Festivals such as ZagrebDox, Croatian Film Days, or the Zagreb Film Festival itself screen many films from their official program at Kino Tuškanac. Many young film students have also had the privilege of premiering their short films in this cinema, and I think this represents very well the value of this cinema in promoting emerging talent. Currently, Kino Tuškanac is screening films by the great Alfred Hitchcock as part of a special summer program. Click here to learn more about this week’s program.


Image: Kino Tuškanac/Facebook

Kino Zona, Zadar

Dalmatia has little or nothing to envy the film industry in the north and center of the country, and this is evident in its growing festivals and art cinemas. One in particular that deserves a lot of attention is the Kino Zona in Zadar, which has movie programs throughout the year and special summer programs. Not only does it seek to popularize recent domestic and international feature films with proven success at festivals, but it also seeks to generate a retrospective culture with classic and acclaimed films. Also, in the Kino Zona in Zadar, you can find meetings with filmmakers, roundtables, talks, and workshops that will allow you to get closer to the wonderful world of cinema. Click here to see this week’s program. 


Image: Kino Zona Zadar/Facebook

Kino Urania, Osijek

When we speak of the Kino Urania in Osijek we speak of a true institution in the country and worthy of reverence. The Kino Urania first screened a film in 1912 and has been a major landmark in eastern Croatia ever since. Although today its program also includes commercial premieres and blockbuster films, Kino Urania has always assumed an important role when it comes to the promotion of independent domestic films. There is no better feeling than sitting watching a movie in one of the oldest cinemas in Croatia. Take a look at this week’s prorgram here.


Image: Croatian Audiovisual Center

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