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Photo by Kevin Caners
You could never plan it, but occasionally in the whirlwind of the world a combination of people, economics (or lack thereof), place and time come together to create the conditions for explosive and feverish creative scenes. Think New York in the 1960s, or Paris in the 1920s. And 1980s West Berlin was precisely that type of place. English transplant Mark Reeder didn't need to think, he was there.
Fueled by cheap rent, a freewheeling lifestyle, and the incredible mix of eccentric characters drawn to the walled in outpost, West Berlin in the 1980s saw an explosion in nightlight, art and most importantly music: bands from Malaria! to Die Tödliche Doris who took the creative freedom of the city as their license.
Now in a stunning homage to the city in that anarchic decade, B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin is a beautifully cut together collection of found footage, super 8mm film, archival film and television clips, and a remastered soundtrack of those times, seen through the eyes of Reeder. Featuring intimate and revealing footage of everyone from a young Nick Cave to Blixa Bargeld and many others soon to be icons who were on the cusp of stardom, B-Movie takes you on a ride that makes you feel as though you were right there in the middle of it all.
And the person who weaves this story and footage all together through his own experience of coming to the city at that time, is Reeder, the successful musician and music producer originally hailing from Manchester who moved to West Berlin in 1978 drawn by the lure of the nascent techno scene.
We sat down to speak with Reeder about those heady crazy days in West Berlin, about the time he threw an illegal punk concert in east Berlin, and why, despite the nostalgic coolness that leaps out from the film, you shouldn't despair about the idea of Berlin being "over."