ENGLISH CINEMA IN GENEVA
by Vivian Holding
Whether you’re keen to take in an Oscar-winning movie, the latest blockbuster or some obscure independent film, Geneva has a great choice of independent cinemas for English speakers.
The joy of going to the cinema on a date night with my partner has returned after a recent visit to Ciné 17, one of the many independent cinemas to be found in Geneva. Since the advent of streaming services and the availability of some fantastic box sets on DVD, we have found ourselves visiting the cinema less frequently. Sure, we take our children to the cinema – either to the Pathé in Balexert/Confederation Centre, or the Arena at La Praille. Great for kids, less so for a date night, I feel.
SMALLER IS BETTER
Independent cinemas in Geneva have had a mixed history over the years, some having been around since the early 1900s. Many have been saved from closure by local communities, but sadly a few have closed permanently. If you feel like we do, that smaller and independent is better à deux, read on!
SERIOUSLY COMFY SEATS
(cine17.ch) 17 rue de la Corraterie, 1204 Genève
Ciné 17 has just one screen, with around 80 seats. They offer a small selection of films in v/o (version originale) subtitled in French and German. The bar is on the small side, but they serve a good range of snacks and drinks. In the summer, they have a terrace in front of the cinema that seats 24.
For me the joy of going to this cinema is their super comfy reclining leather seats (the most comfortable cinema seats I have ever experienced), you can reserve your seats easily on-line, a space to hang your coats (although bizarrely they say this added extra forms a part of your ticket price?!). But the real clincher for me? They serve champagne in real champagne flutes that you can take with you into the film! Perfect.
Ticket prices 20chf (matinees) or 25chf (evenings). On-line booking service via their website.
Note also that Ciné 17 accepts all credit cards without a minimum spend.
Concessions for AVS/AI/AC, students, youngsters and CINE 17 FIDELITY CARD holders as well as members of AIC and ASCE and holders of the Côté Courrier and M3 cards
EROTIC FILMS – NO MORE
(cinerama-empire.ch) 72-73 rue de Carouge, 1205 Genève
Re-opened back in November 2015, after being closed for four years (and very nearly being turned into a fitness centre), the Empire offers 270 sumptuous red seats on the lower level and 22 double seats on the upper level balcony (for the more romantic), as well as a high definition curved panoramic screen and state of the art sound system.
This place is well known to the Genevois for showing porn films back in the day. In the 70s, an erotic production called The Miracle of Love (made in 1968 by the German author Franz Josef Gottlieb) a pseudo-documentary, narrated by a sexologist, was a phenomenal success. In twenty-seven weeks, 70,000 Genevans rushed to see it! Who’d have thought? Now better known as the cinema with a reproduction carpet from the Motel in Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘The Shining’, thankfully its reputation is changing. Erotic films are no longer on the listing, but what is on offer is a great selection of films, shown in v/o subtitled in French/German.
Ticket prices 17.50chf (lower level), 50chf (upper level sofas for 2). On-line booking service available via their website.
Note also that Cinerama Empire accepts all credit cards without a minimum spend.
TOP TIP: On Mondays Cinerama Empire offers a special rate of CHF12,50 – an unbeatable price to see top films in seriously comfy seats. (Excluding public holidays and the night directly before a public holiday. There is a supplement of CHF2.50 for 3D or 4D films)
SERIAL NAME CHANGER
(cinema-bio.ch) 47 rue St-Joseph, Carouge, 1227 Genève
The cinema set facing the Place du Marché in Carouge has been around since the early 1900s. Previously named the Ideal-Cinema in 1912, the Chanteclair-Cinema from 1913-1915, the Cinema-Carouge in the early 20s, the Carouge-Cinema from 1928-1951 and the Vox from 1952-1971. Saved by from closure by locals, it was renamed BIO 72 in 1972 and has kept that name ever since.
This place has a fantastic bar, for your pre and post cinema drinks and after a recent visit, it has become apparent why this is so important – no food or drinks are allowed in the auditorium. Strange yes, but true. Saves on having to listen to any rustling noises while you’re enjoying the film I suppose!
Ticket prices 16.50chf, reduced rate 13chf, Monday night special 12chf. Sadly no on-line booking service, but tickets can be purchased at the box office in advance (check opening times of the box office).
Les Scala and Le City
23 rue des Eaux-Vives, 1207 Genève (Les Scala)
place des Eaux-Vives, 1207 Genève (Le City)
Les Scala has been around since 1949. Originally built as a single-screen room, it was transformed into a small complex of three screens in 1990. The largest of these holds 190 seats, the other two contain 90 seats each. Since 2012, the cinema Le City which is close by in place des Eaux-Vives, has been managed by the Scala team and functions as their fourth room. The cinema Le City, with a capacity of 170 seats, has also been around since the 40s and has recently seen an extensive renovation in 2016.
Ticket prices 16.50chf, reduced rate 13chf/12chf, Monday night special 12chf. Sadly, no on-line booking. Booking office opens 15 minutes before the film starts. Cash only.
Reduced price cinema tickets
The price of cinema tickets in Geneva is reasonably high. If this is what puts you off visiting the cinema, there are a few ways that you can reduce the cost, such as going on a Monday night when the prices are often reduced (see participating cinemas above), many cinemas offer cheaper tickets for matinee performances. Another option is to buy a Ciné Pass.
The Ciné Pass offers reduced tickets prices to all screenings at participating independent cinemas in Geneva (Bio Carouge, Cinélux, CinéMargand, CinéVersoix, Ciné-Saussure, Le City, Les Cinémas du Grütli, Les Scala, Nord-Sud Servette).
Costing 30chf for the card alone, you can initially pay either 75chf for the card plus 5 entrances or 120chf for the card plus 10 entrances. The card is valid for one year and is sold at participating cinemas as well as a few other outlets (see the website for details). Remember to take a recent passport-sized identity photograph when buying the card.