Earlier this year, and making sure to keep a tight lid on it, CineStar told its employees that the Sony Center OV multiplex on Potsdamer Platz would close by the end of the year. Any hopes for a merger with Vue International (who own rivals CinemaxX) quickly faded, and after 20 years, the space is to be returned to the landlord for more lucrative ventures – offices and co-working spaces, if the rumours are to be believed. No specific reason for the non-renewal of the lease was given. The closure is a blow for cinemagoers, especially those who seek out films in OV, and have nostalgic memories of those glamorous premieres hosted at the kino. IMAX fans can start mourning too, as from now on they’ll have to book a train ticket to Karlsruhe, Sinsheim or Speyer, to get the experience. It’s also an almighty headache for the Berlinale. CineStar – alongside the Berlinale Palast and CinemaxX – was a key venue for the Berlin Film Festival screenings. They’re now “looking into all possible options for 2020” according to the press office. No need to panic though: Cinestar Kulturbrauerei will pick up the slack (Fantasy Film Fest has already announced that the upcoming White Nights and FFF Nights will be held at the Prenzlauer Berg venue). They have already expanded their OV programming in English, with more to come at the four remaining Berlin locations of the group, from Cubix Alexanderplatz to Cinestar Hellersdorf.
While the closure of CineStar is a major shake-up in Berlin’s cinematic landscape, what truly breaks our hearts are the difficulties Moviemento is facing. The 100-year-old Kreuzberg kino at the vanguard of the city’s independent cultural scene faces closure after the owners of its building decided to sell the space. Fighting for survival, the duo behind Moviemento since 2007, Iris Praefke and Wulf Sörgel, are trying to withdraw the cinema from market speculation by purchasing the space. They’ve launched a fundraising campaign and have already received more than €70,000 – plus the backing of some of the likes of Tom Tykwer, director Dietrich Brüggemann and Berlinale’s Wieland Speck as well as local politicians. Here’s hoping for Christmas miracles and that generous contributors will dig deep in order to secure the cinema’s existence. Cine-lovers… assemble!