Whether new locations opened in some of Berlin’s last empty spaces or revivals of beloved old favourites, the city has never been more awash in boutique movie theatres catering to international Berliners with OV arthouse. Here’s who they are and what they’re doing.
Il Kino: film and aperitivo
Back in 2012, Neukölln was teeming with young bespectacled would-be cinephiles, but nowhere for them to watch films in their own languages except the middlebrow, Yorck-owned Passagen, Neues Off and Rollberg. That changed after Italian documentary filmmaker Carla Molino, German screenwriter Daniel Wuschansky, and Norwegian musician and designer Kristian Palshaugen attended a screening of a football match in an abandoned bakery by Maybachufer six years ago. The very next day, they began scheming to convert the place into an Italian-themed cinema and café; by the end of 2014, with the help of their life savings, prodigious bank loans, and private investors, Il Kino opened its doors. It’s now a cosy fixture in the Kiez, a place where a British-Italian painter-DJ couple can nibble on a plate of the house lasagna before their English-subtitled screening of Toni Erdmann and discuss the film over espresso afterwards. The programme, which you’d be just as likely to find at any other arthouse cinema, is almost beside the point. But you will find the occasional standout event, from mini-documentary film festivals to a surprise screening the first Wednesday of every month.
Nansenstr. 22, Neukölln, one screen, 52 seats, tickets €7-8
Wolf: giving back to locals
Heidelberg-born Verena von Stackelberg, who had programmed for cinemas in London for a decade before moving to Berlin in 2008, saw a perfect chance to open a new neighbourhood Kino when the ground-floor brothel kitty-corner to her Neukölln apartment closed down. After working on a plan with a team of designers and architects, she launched an ambitious crowdfunding campaign in 2015, bringing in over €50,000, later supplemented by outside investors. But as the theatre was beneath a residential apartment building, it had to be rigorously soundproofed, each of its two screening rooms constructed with nested double walls. After much trial and tribulation, Wolf was finally completed in February of this year, just in time to participate in the “Berlinale goes Kiez” programme. With her cinema standing in a part of Neukölln quite as thoroughly hipsterised as Il Kino’s, Von Stackelberg has taken it to heart to “offset” Wolf’s gentrifying impact by opening it up to locals. That means film workshops and screenings for schoolchildren, and a studio, editing suite and exhibition space for Berlin filmmakers – last month, Berlin-based American artist Josephine Decker was editing a VR film there. Von Stackelberg’s past in working with film festivals also motivates her programming decisions, pairing rarely-seen-in-Berlin older gems (like 1966 Czech classic Daisies) with the more conventional indie fare.
Weserstr. 59, Neukölln, two screens, 40 and 49 seats each, tickets €7-8.50
Klick: City West revival
This might be the latest addition to the city’s big-screen scene, but Klick isn’t a new cinema – it’s a very old one. The small theatre on Charlottenburg’s Stuttgarter Platz dates back to 1911, when it was successively known as Reichlichtspiele, Dolly Kino or Charlott. Renamed Klick after WWII, it became a lively haunt in what was then a red-light district – old West Berliners still recall the biergarten out in front and the inexplicably popular revival screenings of the 1941 musical Hellzapoppin. Closed for bankruptcy in 2004, it was taken over by online marketplace Dawanda, which repurposed its lobby as a kitschy cafe and store, hosting the occasional film event in the adjacent screening room. Enter two film professionals, distributor Christos Acrivolles and publicist Claudia Rische, who took it upon themselves to bring the Kino back to life. As part of a deal with Dawanda (which still operates its Snuggery café in the hall), they managed to reopen Klick as a cinema at the end of March. ‘“We really wanted to create a Kiezkino, like it was before it closed down, so we choose movies that fit in with the tastes of the people who’ve lived here for a while.” Often these are second- or third-run films, OV foreign films subtitled in German, as well as a family-oriented programme on weekends. Klick also endeavours to spread the work of student filmmakers, replacing the usual pre-film ads with shorts from the DFFB film school. All in all, Rische and Acrivolles seem eager to cater to the Charlottenburg community, while expanding access to OV quality cinema in a City West dominated by the dubbed market.
Windscheidstr. 19, Charlottenburg, one screen, 83 seats, tickets €8
Eiszeit: Punk gone mild
Kreuzberg’s Eiszeit celebrates a year since its rebirth with a week of special screenings June 15-22. Check out their website for full programme.
Opened in 1985, Kreuzberg’s Eiszeit Kino was a beloved punk hangout pre- and post-Wende. Locals remember the monthly Super 8 evenings, the politically tinged director talks and the controversies – like a 1988 screening of Richard Kern’s Fingered with Lydia Lunch that ended when 10 masked men came in and smashed the projector, calling the Eiszeit programmers “sexist pigs”. Today, that Kino is all but unrecognisable, thanks to its 2014 acquisition by a team of investors led by Münich businessman Rainer Krisp and Burkhard Voiges of Hackesche Höfe fame. They promptly gave the place an extensive €1.2 million makeover, expanding to the basement of a neighbouring apartment building, and reopened in July of 2016 with three new cinema screens and a large café serving lunch, snacks and tapas. The new Eiszeit has an industrial-chic sort of flair, with concrete floors and the occasional swath of exposed brick casting a nod towards the cinema’s past, while polished and clean enough not to scare away its new, more upwardly mobile clientele. The transition from grimy punk lair to Ryan Gosling brunch triple-features is still bemoaned by older patrons. “Sometimes they try to come in through the former courtyard entrance they’re used to, but it’s now the new cinema’s offices. They really wonder what’s going on,” says Lysann Windisch, who’s worked at Eiszeit since the old days. Naja, still better than a multiplex…
Zeughofstr. 20, Kreuzberg, three screens with 82, 49, and 40 seats, tickets €6.50-8.50