The Spanish love cinema, as well as their own thriving industry film goers are equally appreciative of European, Hollywood and World cinema. The sector has undergone somewhat of a renaissance over the last decade with a significant increase in the number of Spanish titles being released internationally. A new wave of Spanish directors like Isabel Coixet (The Bookshop), Juan Antonio Bayona (A Monster Calls) and Alejandro Amenábar (The Others) are renowned internationally, taking over from avant-garde figures such as Pedro Almodóvar and Bigas Luna. Spanish movie stars like Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas are as at home in Hollywood as they are in home grown independent films.
Summers for cinephiles in Madrid
Film festivals and cycles
This fascination for film is reflected in the number of cinema festivals that take place around the country, the most important of which is the San Sebastián International Film Festival (first held in 1953), followed by the Sitges Film Festival (fantasy and horror cinema, first held in 1971) and Festival de Malaga Cine en Español (Spanish speaking cinema). Every major city has its repertoire cinema with film cycles laid on throughout the year, one of the most popular takes place each summer in Madrid, Cibeles Cine taking place at the Galería de Cristal of the CentroCentro located adjacent to the eponymous fountain, one of the capital city’s most famous landmarks.
Every summer between June 29th and September 9th more than 90 films are projected in VOSE (meaning in their original language with Spanish sub-titles), an eclectic mix of classic and cult films combined with the most popular current releases. All cinematic genres are included, from drama to comedy, documentary to musicals, literally there’s something for everyone. The programme also includes parallel activities such as exhibitions, workshops for kids, themed artistic and gastronomic events and much more.
The Galería de Cristal is a covered courtyard that forms part of the Madrid City Council or Ayuntamiento, consisting of 2,800 sq.m. enclosed by a sophisticated glass roof made possible by cutting edge engineering technology that allows public and private events to be held year round. Formerly known as the Catedral de Comunicaciones the Palacio de Cibeles was completed in 1919 to the designs of architects Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi. Occupying the area previously forming part of the Buen Retiro gardens, its Neo-Gothic style recalls the individual style of the architects (who also designed the Hospital de Jornaleros de Maude), with richly carved decoration and soaring pinnacles pointing skyward.
A unique cinema experience
The Galería de Cristal is fully air conditioned, an important consideration for the torrid Madrid nights, the total seating capacity in this unique setting is 700, each seat is provided with wireless speakers and cinema fans can also take advantage of the bar which operates between 8 p.m. and the start of the last film session, around 10 p.m. This year to mark the 5th year of Cibeles Cine the Madrid based magazine El Duende has sponsored an art exhibition which itself marks the 20th anniversary of the publication.
The projections run from Monday through Thursday between 8 p.m. and 0.30 a.m., as well as on Sundays while on Fridays and Saturdays the last session finishes at 2.30 a.m.
Tickets cost 6 Eur. with a reduction on Mondays (5 Eur.) on the día del espectador, typical throughout Spain.
Different combinations of tickets and refreshments (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are available to purchase at the official web; www.cibelesdecine.com
The entrance to the Galería de Cristal, where the Cibeles Cine are projected is accessed through the main door of the CentroCentro (Palacio de Cibeles) on Plaza Cibeles 1, 28014 Madrid. Exit is through a side door on Calle Montalbán 1.
The nearest metro stop is Banco de España, while if arriving by train the nearest station is Recoletos. Becasue of its central location numerous buses will tak you past its front door; 1, 2, 202, 5, 9, 10, 14, 15, 20, 27, 34, 37, 45, 51, 52, 53, 74, 146, 150, 203 as well as the Express Airport Bus.
For private cars the closest car park is at C/ Montalbán, 1 which also provides spaces for bicycles.
Accommodation, cuisine and cocktails
Either the Hotel Único Madrid or the Principal Madrid Hotel is ideally located for Cibeles Cine, no more than a ten minute stroll to the Plaza Cibeles. For cinephiles both hotels provide a stunning vista and backdrop to the cinematic experience; Hotel Único with its 19th Century townhouse feel in one of Madrid’s most exclusive neighbourhoods that is also home to Ramón Freixa Madrid, the multi award winning restaurant that is the perfect cinematic accompaniment. And The Principal at the very centre of everything, Madrid’s Gran Vía, where La Terraza, the roof terrace cocktail bar (the city’s unofficial headquarters for the beautiful people) or the Ático restaurant (a somewhat less formal gourmet experience also by Ramón Freixa) will ensure an unforgettable stay in every sense of the word.