Berlin, Film, Life in Berlin

Is the CineStar in Potsdamer Platz the worst cinema in Berlin?

Yes, it is. I went to see the new James Bond film, Skyfall, there yesterday, and remembered why I stopped going there about a year ago.

They play over an hour of adverts before the film starts. First, they played normal adverts, then trailers, then they switched back to normal adverts again! It’s enough to make you lose the will to live, or, if you’re susceptible to advertising like I am, run out and buy everything in the entire world, from a Kinder egg to a Mini.

As if that wasn’t enough, they randomly stopped the film in the middle for an interval, so that people could get up and buy drinks etc, thus disturbing the audience’s suspension of disbelief and spoiling the flow of the film. I’m sure director Sam Mendes, the screenwriters and the hundreds of people who worked on the film intended it to be watched in one sitting.

A cinema – already packed and making money hand over fist – that starts interfering with the viewer’s experience to make even more money is an insult to everyone involved – creators and audience alike.

To see OV or Omu (original language, i.e. English) films, go to Hackeshe Hoefe, the Odeon or one of the cinemas in the Yorck group for an enjoyable experience.

That’s it – rant over…

Advertisements
Film, Life in Berlin

British Shorts Film Festival at Sputnik Kino

Nicknamed Berlin’s highest cinema, you’ll find Sputnik Kino on the fifth floor of a 19th century business complex in Kreuzberg. The climb to this intimate art house cinema and bar, however, is worth it. It has two screens, a 1950s style bar scattered with sofas and old film artefacts, and a balcony with a view that overlooks Berlin.
British Shorts film festival poster

This weekend the cinema hosted the British Shorts film festival in Kino 1, whose bricked seat rows were filled to capacity for most screenings. The festival is now in its third year and showcases an eclectic range of British films (the loose definition of which seems to be those either made by Brits, set in Britain, or made with British funding and support) from documentary to animation.

The most interesting piece of the festival came from the Gob Squad , a unique British-German artist collective who do performance, video and installation art projects and everything in between.  Live Long and Prosper is a split screen film which aims to bring death into public view. Not only does death occur mostly out of sight in modern society, banished to hospitals or homes, but the actual moment of death is seldom seen in films.

Consequently, the Gob Squad took seven death scenes from seven movies and recreated them in different public places around Berlin. So for example, the scene where Spock dies in Star Trek is recreated in Pfennigland. Although the recreated version is done in earnest – by the performers as well as the film-makers, who attempt to get the camera angles, set and costume details down to a tee, the juxtaposition between the original and the recreated scene provoked much laughter. Eventually however, the laugher died down, and a more contemplative, serious atmosphere pervaded the cinema; it became a meditation on the moment death, and the ongoing movement of the modern world in the background of the recreated scenes became depressing. If you do get the chance to see this film, grab it.

A couple of acts that combined music with video also stood out. Dirk Markham, a Berlin-based Scottish musician mixed electronic music with interesting visuals in the bar on Friday night, and Éda Manó Meggyesházi performed on Saturday – her songs filling the cinema like those of a woodland spirit, reflecting the images of the crooked winter trees that accompanied them.

The selection of short films were of a very hight standard – many of them student projects from the London College of Communications, Edinburgh College of Art or University of Bedfordshire (the festival has links to the University of Bedfordshire). You can see a full programme of all the shorts shown here.

Film, Life in Berlin

Premiere of The Line, Kastanianallee 77

Former Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit described Berlin as “poor but sexy”, and there is nothing poorer or sexier in Berlin than its film-making community.

Berlin has provided the inspiration for films such as Cabaret, Wings of Desire and The Lives of Others, and is home to over 100 cinemas (see list) and the Berlinale.  In Berlin, film-makers even get their own little places to hang out, such as Cinema Café in Hackescher Markt or Filmcafe in Prenzlauer Berg.

The Line PosterLast night Xavier Agudo premiered his short film The Line at the very sexy, very intimate cinema at 77 Kastanienalle, which has a cool basement bar and is decorated with Truffaut and Bergman film posters.

The film was very ‘Berlin’; made with hardly any money, an international cast and crew and inspired by The Wall. It’s a beautifully shot little film about divisions – the line between east and west, past and present, the living and the dead. I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone who’s interested in watching it – it is due to be shown at HHU Filmfest Düsseldorf shortly – but here’s a teaser.