The line-up until June is mostly comprised of re-runs from last year (Parasite, Futur Drei, Ema) which was to be expected, excellent films which had their theatrical runs cut short (Babyteeth (Milla Meets Moses), Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Und Morgen Die Ganze Welt) and a few more recent titles which have been doing the awards rounds (The Trial of the Chicago 7, The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, Tenet, News of the World).
The limited selection of films shared by all three open-air venues do feel like placeholders before the Berlinale’s Summer Special hits the same outdoor screens next month (June 9-20). But, really, who’s to complain about the film selection when we’ve been deprived of big screen experiences for so long? While many titles are already out on streaming platforms and VoD, it’s a chance to book tickets for flicks you may have missed the first time around – and to show support for the Freiluftkinos, who will need all the help they can get with the new limit of 250 seats per screening.
Here’s our pick of the five hot tickets you should be booking.
ANOTHER ROUND (DER RAUSCH)
Freiluftkino Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Rehberge will all preview the Oscar-winning (Best International Feature) Danish film Another Round, which is currently expected to open in German kinos on July 15 (delayed from its original January start date). Frustratingly for some, all three screenings seem to be in OV Danish with German subs; for others who don’t see this as a hindrance, book a ticket asap.
Thomas Vinterberg’s latest film – his first with Mads Mikkelsen since 2012’s The Hunt – sees a group of four high school teachers embark upon a pseudo-scientific experiment when they learn that the human body has a slight blood-alcohol imbalance. They set about sustaining a level of controlled intoxication (or: lockdown in a nutshell) to see if it could improve their personal and professional lives, and get them out of looming midlife atrophies. Behind Another Round’s brazenly enticing premise is a thoughtful and occasionally hilarious character study. More than a midlife crisis film about stunted masculinity – something we’ve seen a dozen times before – Vinterberg lampoons the genre and simultaneously taps a melancholic vein. It’s a film about remembering to celebrate life in the face of the past’s leftover hopes, which can be as addictive as any intoxicant, and its bittersweet-yet-invigorating finale is the note-perfect way to chase away the lockdown blues with a (dancing and champagne-soaked) buzz.
Freiluftkino Hasenheide: June 2 – 21:45
Freiluftkino Rehberge: June 4 – 21:30
Freiluftkino Freidrichshain: June 5 – 21:30
Freiluftkino Kreuzberg: June 6 – 21:30
Berliners are still a way away from seeing Chloé Zhao’s Oscar-winning Nomadland on the big screen (which currently seems not to have a kino start date, following multiple delays from its planned theatrical release in April). Still, Freiluftkino Kreuzberg is making the best of it by shrewdly choosing to screen Zhao’s previous film, 2017’s The Rider.
Similar themes surrounding the deconstruction of the American Dream appear in The Rider, a neo-western that soulfully grapples with wounded masculinity and fragile American myths. It revolves around a rodeo champ recovering from a serious head injury. It’s clear from the get-go that the damage goes beyond the physical, as the protruding staples on the side of his shaved head have also clearly shaken his sense of self. Zhao never indulges in any platitudes and beautifully riffs on the life experiences of her non-professional cast to deliver a low-key triumph that’s both an authentic slice of rural Americana and a more-than-adequate substitute until German audiences get to finally see Nomadland.
Freiluftkino Kreuzberg: June 3 – 21:30 (English with German subs)
A BLACK JESUS
Freiluftkino Kreuzberg has another gem up its sleeve with the premiere of Luca Lucchesi’s documentary A Black Jesus, which competed last year for the Audience Award at DOK Leipzig and was part of the Official Selection at the International Documentary Film Festival UNAFF 2020. It’s supposed to be coming out on German screens in October, and audiences will have one opportunity to see it in advance next week.
The doc follows locals and migrants in a refugee camp in Siculiana, a small Sicilian town of contrasts, where the worshipped figure of Jesus Christ is black. A 19-year-old Ghanaian man, Edward is in the Villa Sikania (the refugee reception camp that is the subject of great debate in the town) and asks to carry the statue in the annual procession – and stand next to the white locals that bear its cart. It’s a powerful portrait of a divided community and prejudice against ‘outsiders’, one that sees inhabitants question their own identity, starting with the icon at the heart of their belief.
Freiluftkino Kreuzberg: May 25 – 21:30 (English / French / Italian with German subs)
You may already have seen Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 heady reimagining of Dario Argento’s giallo horror classic, but trust us when we say that it’s worth revisiting. This enticingly strange redo can seem messily convoluted – but it truly rewards a rewatch.
Set in 1977 and consisting of “six acts and an epilogue set in divided Berlin”, Guadagnino’s new version never plays it safe or falls into largely pointless homage. Armed with David Kajganich’s layered script and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s surprising score, the director tantalisingly explores the themes of motherhood and witchcraft, plays with the final girl trope, and makes his Suspiria about how shame and guilt are forces that can be reclaimed by women. He taps a giallo vein in which psychosexual urges and womanhood frequently interflow, delving into how rebirth is a vital and intransigent force. The end result is intoxicating, brimming with detail and Jungian subtext, so much so that it’s almost impossible to fully appreciate it in one sitting. Like we said, well worth revisiting.
Freiluftkino Central: May 29 – 21:15 & June 07 – 21:30 (both English with German subs)
BODYGUARD & THE SHINING
Finally, two bone fide classics which need no introduction are being screened at Freiluftkino Friedrichshain and Freiluftkino Rehberge. Don’t hesitate – book now to catch these on the big screen once more.
“Aaaaand iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-ee-iiiiiiiii will always love youuuuuuuuu”: Freiluftkino Freidrichshain: June 06 – 21:30 (unknown – we’re hoping OV!)
“Come play with us, Dannny”: Freiluftkino Rehberge: June 08 – 21:30 (English with German subs)
ORIGINAL STORY (17/05):
With cinemas reopening today in the UK, Ireland and France, Berliners won’t have to wait too long for their cultural hit, as the first theatres and cinemas are reopening as outdoor venues this week. Last week’s announcement that the second leg of the 71st Berlinale will be going ahead next month as an in-person open-air event has meant that from May 19, outdoor cultural events are now possible. Freiluftkinos in Kreuzberg, Mitte, Friedrichshain and Rehberge plan to open at the end of this week (May 20 and 21), while the Yorck Group plans to open the outdoor cinema at Kulturforum, as well as a new venue at Charlottenburg Palace, at the beginning of June.
The Berlin Senate has confirmed this – the prerequisite being that the seven-day incidence rate remains stable and below 100 in order to loosen the nationwide emergency brake. Should that continue to be the case, there’ll be a maximum number of 250 people per screening, in conjunction with strict rules on distancing. Like last year, fixed seating will be required: all tickets must be purchased online and masks remain a must on site when you’re not in your booked seat, i.e.: mandatory before and during your ticket scan, when you move from your allocated seat to the kiosk and toilets, and when you leave the premises.
The programmes were meant to be out today, and regardless of some delay on that front, we’ve got some info and a few scoops.
Freiluftkino Kreuzberg will start as soon as this Thursday, at 21:30, with the screening of Faraz Shariat’s fantastic debut film Futur Drei (No Hard Feelings), which premiered at last year’s Berlinale, where it won the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film. The opening film of the season was originally slated as German actress Franka Potente’s first feature, Home, starring Jake McLaughlin and Kathy Bates, which premiered in 2020 at the Rome Film Festival and went on to screen at the San Francisco International Film Festival this year. We can only hope that the film will be a part of the main programme, which comes out tomorrow. Freiluftkino Kreuzberg organiser and programmer Arne Höhne told us that open-air cinema lovers are already used to the safety measures, since they remain the same as last year. He added that 250 people is much less than was allowed last year, but that there’s hope that more people will be permitted when the Berlinale Summer Special starts in June (9-20). Fingers crossed.
Freiluftkino Friedrichshain will follow suit on Friday at 21:30 with an exclusive preview of Icíar Bollaín’s Goya-nominated tragi-comedy, Rosa’s Wedding (La Boda de Rosa / Rosas Hochzeit). The film also did the festival rounds last year – premiering at the Málaga Film Festival – and has yet to be released in German Kinos. It follows a 45-year-old woman who has devoted her life to pleasing others. When work and family drama finally become too overwhelming to bear, she decides to shake things up: she looks to start her own business and wants to get married… to herself. It’s well worth a watch and is screening in OV Spanish with German subs.
Frieluftkino Rehberge will also wait until Friday at 21:30 to kickstart their open-air season with Lee Daniels’ biopic The United States Vs. Billie Holiday. Having already been released on VoD, we reviewed the film in last month’s magazine, saying that it’s a muddled musical biopic that just about makes up in ambition what it lacks in narrative cohesion. The United States Vs. Billie Holiday is both an account of the tragic life and career of blues singer Billie Holiday and a portrait of the state-sponsored racial oppression courtesy of the FBI. Suzan-Lori Parks’ zig-zagging script feels stilted and never satisfyingly interweaves both strands into a powerful through-line, and while the film falls short in a lot of categories, there’s simply no denying that a star is born in Andra Day, who is astonishing as Holiday. Her Oscar nomination for the role is well deserved and worth the price of admission alone.
Elsewhere, Kino Central in Mitte has already announced its open-air programme, which starts on Thursday, with Parasite (21:15 – OmeU). Screenings of old favourites will include Wings of Desire (21/05, 21:15 – OmEnglU and a repeat screening of 31/05, 21:30), Rocketman (22/05, 21:15 – OmU), Call Me By Your Name (26/05, 21:15 – OmU), Midsommar (27/05, 21:15 – OmU) and Suspiria (29/05, 21:15 – OmU), with more to follow.
Other Freiluftkinos have yet to make announcements, including one of our favourites for outdoor OV screenings, Freiluftkino Insel im Cassiopeia, which has only stated that the 2021 season is still in preparation, with no further information at this time.
Further prospects for indoor cultural events will continue to be discussed in the coming days. We’ll keep you updated on further openings, tomorrow’s programme releases, which films to catch and when, as well as our full Berlinale Summer Special coverage on exberliner.com.