More than 3D: tour across Moscow’s most unusual cinemas

Get your popcorn ready, as RT guides you through Moscow’s most exotic cinemas, including a 360-degree panorama and a cinema with a bird’s eye view of the capital.

­Silent Cinema against noisy parkers

This is not a sound glitch or a silent film – this is a Silent Cinema. You wear wireless headphones to watch films, without the unwelcome soundtrack of noisy neighbors.

“The great thing is that you can organize viewings at parties and exhibitions without disturbing anyone, even in places where it’s got to be quiet,” Mikhail Opotsky, co-organizer of the Silent Media Agency, told RT.

“This way you concentrate better on what you’re seeing. And it’s true that a Silent Cinema can pop up almost anywhere,” said Slava Slavikov, a fellow co-organizer of the Silent Media Agency.

This one has popped up not far from the city center, at a place called Flacon, a former glass factory converted into a business and art center, and a hangout for the city’s young and trendy.

The entrance is free, but you need a $30 deposit for the headphones, which you get back upon leaving. The cinema shows handpicked movies that are anything but conventional mainstream. Forget the latest 3D blockbusters: when it comes to cinema-going, Moscow can offer some quite exotic alternatives.

­Panoramic view

One of them is Russia’s only 360-degree panoramic cinema at the All-Russian Exhibition Center in northern Moscow, with 11 screens working simultaneously.

The story goes that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev saw such a cinema in the US and wanted the Soviet Union to have one. So in 1959 Moscow got it. A testing ground for the most revolutionary technologies of the time, it became the country’s pride and joy.

“Every show is a stress for us,” engineer Natalya Vashchekina told RT. “Just think of it – eleven projectors for the video and one more for the soundtrack. And all this equipment is so old that something can break down any minute. You’ve always got to be ready for that.”

Here, the action surrounds you completely. Instead of seats there are benches because you cannot just sit and stare – you have to watch actively. Not just any film can be shown there – the cinema has eight Soviet 20-minute documentaries that were filmed especially for it.

“A projectionist in a typical cinema just starts the movie and then can sit back and relax,” projectionist Irina Dorofeeva told RT. “I’ve got to work throughout the film – aligning the horizon levels on all 11 screens so that the viewer gets an even picture. But I love this cinema because we’ve managed to preserve a unique bit of history here. We’ve managed to stop time.”

After the fall of the Soviet Union, interest in the project dwindled. Nowadays not many Russians, let alone foreigners, know that this Soviet technological miracle is still open. Meanwhile, at the modest price of $2 it is a perfect place to plunge yourself back into life back in the Soviet Union.


If it is all things modern you are after, why not combine the love of the silver screen with a breath of fresh air and bird’s-eye views of Moscow?

With rooftop bars, restaurants and gardens being the capital’s latest craze, it seems it was only a matter of time before we got a rooftop cinema.

Located at the Artplay Design Center in downtown Moscow, it offers plenty to see on and off the screen.

“Plenty of different films are shown here – foreign ones, too, in their original languages, with subtitles,” Alyona Bocharova, executive producer of the Beat film festival, told RT. “And after the movie there’s often a party or a concert. It’s all very cosmopolitan.”

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