1 of 3
2 of 3
3 of 3
It’s no secret that Berlin is a city full of cineastes whose souls yearn for the magic of the silver screen. This love has spread beyond the cineplex to nourish small, alternative film spots throughout the city. EXBERLINER guides you through the celluloid backstreets.
Monday movie party
Decades before its acronym was rearranged and it became the multi-platform arts venue .HBC, the CHB (Collegium Hungaricum Berlin) was a cinematic hub for GDR dissidents. East Berlin’s young arts scene used to gather at the Haus Ungarn, as it was commonly called, to watch movies forbidden by the communist government. Cinéma, a new Monday-night party at .HBC, revisits the building’s storied celluloid lineage. Yet the impressively redesigned Neobauhaus Kino functions as little more than a candle-lit backdrop: Cinéma is more of a dance party than a movie night.
The three heads behind the party – It-blog-girl and photographer Katja Hentschel (glamcanyon), MotorFM's “Off The Record” hostess Liz Rushe, aka Elizafoxxx, and Svenster, who does the Raphistory parties at Bohannon – forgo the usual electro, instead unleashing a soundtrack of hip hop, R'n'B, and soul. But nostalgic cineastes, despair not! Clips of Hollywood classics and Brigitte Bardot flicks are projected throughout the evening. And of course, there’s plenty of popcorn.
CINÉMA, Mondays, from 22:00 | .HBC
One of the latest OV cinemas to hit Berlin – and one of the smallest and plushest in town – is located in the cosy basement of the exclusive Torstraße club, Soho House. In true tycoon home-cinema-style, the projection room boasts state-of-the-art technology (including 3D) and red velvet seats for those happy few to comfortably rest their bums (and arms and feet for that matter). Often enough, the film is an ‘exclusive’ preview of a soon-to-be-released flick, perhaps with an introduction or Q&A with the director.
Soho House members can sign up for up to five screenings per month. But outsiders with connections, fear not: one friend is allowed per screening.
Regulars include Tatort Sunday for lovers of German crime drama and special kids’ movies on Saturday mornings. The programme is supposed to focus on “art house cinema” for “opinion leaders”. Expect mostly new releases from Hollywood and Babelsberg with the occasional kick of seeing it before mere mortals.
Fingerfilm, a shop in Friedrichshain devoted entirely to the production and distribution of flip-books, opened its doors in September as the only one of its kind in the world. Owner Sabine Klar supplies more than 50 shops (bookstores, design boutiques, etc.) in Germany and five in Switzerland with the books, which are not really read but rather ‘watched’, their contents transformed into a self-projected moving picture.
The creators behind the more-than-250 different titles in stock hail from very different backgrounds – from the Spanish lawyer to the German backpacker – but the majority of the titles are from France, the mother country of flip-bookophilia. The little book-bound movies run the gamut in both price range (€3-20) and theme (from porn stars to fine cuisine). The bestseller is Bügeln mit Pupinta (Ironing with Pupinta, €7.95): Klar has sold more than 2000 copies to some 60 retailers.
For aspirant finger-filmmakers, there’s a DIY kit (€16.95), and in keeping with the cutting edge of film technology, there are of course titles available in 3D!
In a crumbling industrial building just off Köpenicker Straße is one of Berlin’s most underground film clubs. There are no signs indicating the entrance. In fact, owner Yusuf Etiman doesn’t want you to know about it at all. But if you’re able to read the Basso website, which offers details on the screenings and a contact form where you can sign up for the super-secret society, you can enter Basso and take part in a free, alternative movie night.
In true Berlin style, the cavernous high-ceilinged, factory-style room is sparsely decorated with 1970s furniture, a makeshift bar and some old corduroy sofas. The screen is the raw wall; the films are mostly cerebral-subversive and avant-garde pop productions with a sexual edge, usually European and, like the furniture, rarely produced after the 1970s.
Before the screening (which usually starts around 10pm) there’s always a short, English introduction of the movie by Etiman, a knowledgeable cineaste. Then you can lean back in your comfy sofa (if you got there early enough to nab one) and enjoy a viewing of that 1974 UK adaptation of Jean Genet’s The Maids or that Estonian cult movie you’ve never heard of but should really know.
At their request, we're not providing any contact info to the super secret elite cinema, so you have to be industrious to find it. (Okay, it's not really that hard).
BASSO | films every Wed, 22:00
Every Saturday night at midnight, a little cinema on Kastanienallee resonates with the immortal lines, “Here’s looking at you kid,” “Play it again, Sam” (which was never actually said in the film) and of course, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Lichtblick Kino, in existance since 1995 (on Kastanienallee since 1997), is Berlin’s smallest official cinema with its 12 rows of three seats each. Run by the art collective Kastanienallee 77, Lichtblick shows avant-garde films, retrospectives of directors like Fassbinder, Fellini and Buñuel, as well as documentaries and shorts – not to mention the midnight Casablanca screening every Saturday.
Most of the films run in OV, and if you’re in need of equipment for your own private screening, the cinema also rents out 35mm and 16mm projectors (ask for prices at the desk). Tickets are €5 with various 50 cent discounts, and the monthly film programme can be downloaded from lichtblick-kino.org.
Where do curators, film historians and hardcore collectors go when they want to find original film posters and other rare, early 20th-Century movie ephemera? They head to Berliner Filmantiquariat in Charlottenburg, where film fanatics Gerhard and Patricia have assembled over a million authentic movie posters from the first moving pictures to the latest blockbusters, as well as some 5 million photos, programmes, signed fan cards, director biographies and almost any other thinkable (or unthinkable) type of movie memorabilia. So if you’re tired of the limited selection in your local Videothek and want to test your German on the non-English-speaking but very knowledgeable duo, chances are you might leave with even more than you came for. Among the shop favorites and bestsellers are posters of classic Fellini movies and the 1927 Fritz Lang classic Metropolis.