One of the things I really appreciate about Berlin is that ordinary things often come wrapped in special ways to make it more intriguing. We are really quite privileged when it comes to entertainment and culture. Take for instance going to the movies. Of course we have the traditional multiplex and small program cinemas. But then there are also luxury theaters with VIP treatment, glamorous vintage cinemas reminiscent of the old days, shabby underground locations with art flicks, mobile kinos projected on fire walls, open air screenings with whirlpools and so many other unusual ways to experience movies.
The upcoming Audi Urban Cinema is yet another event that will nurture our high standards in light entertainment. The popular series is already in its fourth year and will once again raise the bar for cinematic experiences. Last year the event took place inside the courtyard of the Kulturbrauerei which was already pretty great as a backdrop for the movies. But this year they’ve stepped up moving over to the riverbanks of the Spree setting up their screen at the Arena.
How can an artist be totally underground (whatever this means) and internationally famous at the same time? What might seem like a contradiction in Los Angeles, London, New York and Paris, is totally possible in Berlin. It is not unusual to meet pop star Peaches eating a snack at Kotti or stumble upon the world’s most famous doorman Sven Marquardt in a small gallery at an opening of an exhibition. So far, all these underground stars have been working in different fields. Of course, some of them have collaborated already, but the project I am about to present to you is more than that.
Initiated by the Audi Zeitgeist Project, dedicated to support experimental art and creative disciplines of all genres, an alliance of exceptional artists from Berlin has come together for a creative masterpiece called Black Mountain. In this experimental short film the artist collective Like a wild beast’s fur, composer Moritz von Oswald and Artistic Director Jan Engel reinterpreted Richard Wagners Opera Parsifal. On the 3rd of July the whole short film was released online on Audi-City starring famous Volskbühne actors like Alexander Scheer, Volker Spengler and Jasna Fritzi Bauer and famous performers like VER.u.s.c.h.k.a., Peaches, Sven Marquardt and many more.
This contemporary take on the opera is revitalizing the traditional piece, setting it inside a dark Berlin techno club. Apart from the movie there was an immersive exhibition open to the public at Gallery Ebensperger. There you could walk through the installation of Hauke Odendahl, which offered a deep immersive experience into the concept of the art piece. During the shooting of the film, one of our favorite Berlin photographers, Florian Kolmer, took individual portraits of the actors and performers.
Check out the full short film and some pictures of the exhibition after the jump.
Most cinema lovers observe what is happening at the Cannes, Venice and Sundance Film Festivals, even if they cannot attend. The programs always look promising and leave us with excitement and hope that the films will one day make it to our local cinemas. Unfortunately, quite a few movies never receive distribution deals, leaving a wider audience unable to see it. Luckily there are lovers of film like Hannes Brühwiler, who help films they believe in reach the silver screen in Berlin!
Hannes’s Festival is poetically called Unknown Pleasures and screens an amazing selection of American independent movies. The festival runs from June 3rd until June 16th 2016 at Arsenal and Il Kino. I met Hannes and spoke with him about American cinema, Unknown Pleasures and the best places for great film in Berlin…
It’s hard to think of a film that has tapped so well into the Berlin party scene. Last year’s Victoria opened on a club night, but quickly took us elsewhere. Certain soundtracks have used adrenaline-fueled techno to help tell their film’s stories – Run Lola Run comes to mind. And certainly there have been films about partying specifically, like 24-Hour Party People or Berlin Calling. But Der Nachtmahr might be the best film ever to weave the pounding, textural sounds that define Berlin into an immersive, exciting story. And it’s amazing!
We open on a warning: “The strobe effects in this movie may cause seizures”. Also: “This movie should be played loud!” And it’s true! There’s a special feeling of being in a loud, intense club – it’s one of frenzy, euphoria and disorientation, punctuated by surreal melodies and anchored to powerful beats. Der Nachtmahr is full of these things, but it doesn’t use these sights and sounds gratuitously – it all makes sense, often underscoring the psychological state of the protagonist.
The movie is a thriller. Not quite a horror, not gory, not gross. It does keep your heart rate up, does have some gasps and edge-of-your-seat moments. The lead girl is super cool and really easy on the eyes, and her struggle is an intense, fun one to identify with. The overall meaning of the plot is labyrinthine and ambiguous – I certainly cannot say what really happened, even. In this sense, it’s sort of a Lynchian film, with some Requiem for a Dream vibes. It’s a super cool movie and everyone should check it out!
Karo is not having an easy time in Berlin right now. She lost her job, her boyfriend too, and no one seems to have much sympathy for her. Much like the title of the film that she is the main character in, she feels like a Mängelexemplar, which is the quirky German word for a book that has some flaws. Don’t we all feel like this somehow? Like something is not quite right with us and that that’s the reason our life is not going as we had hoped? Karo perfectly embodies these self-doubts with her neurotic, yet charming and funny self. She is the type of girl that you just want to cry with when you feel horrible. After the jump: her 8 favorite places to cry in Berlin and the trailer for the new film that is released in cinemas today.
“Many recent articles have attempted to tackle the subject of dating in Berlin, explaining why and how the dating scene here is seen as a difficult one. People are said to ‘fall in love with the city and only with the city’.” This is the summery of the documentary film Berlin Way of Love.
Does this sound familiar to you? To be honest it sounds familiar to me. And to be even more honest it’s probably about me. Through a combination of funny circumstances I was asked to participate in a short documentary about love in Berlin called Berlin Way of Love. Together with Jule Müller from im gegenteil we had a short interview session where we had to share our “expertise” ( hilarious!) about dating in Berlin and why it is so difficult. The cherry on top of this absurd situation was that I had to talk in English which I did with my strongest, most charming German accent. As you might imagine watching the final documentary is not as fun for myself as it might be for you. But still I have to admit that it is a very charming short movie with some funny insights about dating in Berlin.
The Berlin underground scene is one of the most diverse in the world. Makes sense – where there is a large society, there is also an underground, an anti-pole to the mainstream. If you look around the Hip Hop scene nowadays, a lot of things have changed. The subcultural character of Hip Hop seemingly vanished and slowly but steadily German Rap became mainstream. But still, Hip Hop is the voice of the unheard, an organ for the youth and a space for resistance.
Young filmmaker and and photographer Mirza Odabaşı took it upon himself to go back in time, to the origins of Berlin and German Rap culture and met up with a wide range of artists and personalities from the scene. In his documentary LeidenSchafft, a pun from the words “passion”, “misery” and “creation”, Odabaşı goes into the deep meanings of the local Rap culture, talks about identity and finding and defining yourself in and outside of the music. He met up with many icons of the scene, ranging from well-known artists like Marteria, Chefket, Eko Fresh and many more to rather Oldschool trailblazers such as Killa Hakan, Marcus Staiger or Spaiche.
In 43 minutes Odabaşı manages to get into topics such as experiences of social exclusion, some of the possible reasons to why Hip Hop is so popular amongst the alleged socially disadvantaged adolscents and portrays the people shaping the German Hip Hop scene in beautiful images in Berlin.
In that way, “LeidenSchafft” is a look back and an appraisal at the same time, bringing light to the underground. And human emotions.
See some impressions of the film and a teaser after the jump.
While reading fairy tales as a child I never understood why the girl protagonist was so weak and defenseless and had to wait for a prince to come save her to achieve happiness. At that time I did not understand that society wants girls to be helpless and dependent on men. Even if sexism and inequality between men and women exists in all societies, there are different realities in several countries. But what strikes me the most is the inequality that can exist inside one country, for instance between the countryside and the cities. Take Turkey for instance, where Istanbul is a free and modern city and the countryside still has the mentality of medieval times.
A wonderful but sad description of this circumstance of Turkish society is shown in the movie Mustang by female director Deniz Gamze. The movie was nominated for many awards this past season: the Oscars, the Golden Globes and in Cannes, where it premiered and even won. Nonetheless it was rather a coincidence that I went to a small independent cinema in Friedrichshain called Ladenkino to see this movie. My impressions of this film, after the jump.
Berlin in the 1950s: A time where dancing schools were omnipresent, skirts were long and women’s empowerment was still in the early stages. Often romanticized as the time with red lipstick, proper hairdo’s and gentlemen, it really was a time of change. The phase right after the war and into the economic miracle was a time of imposition. A time where the fight between prudery and emancipation often culminated in dancing schools that were pretty popular these days. And then Rock ‘n’ Roll came into town. And with it a sort of liberation in dance, that no one could stop.
This is exactly where the three-part series Ku’damm 56 takes place. The TV series from the German public service television ZDF revolves around young Monika Schöllack who, after improper behavior, has been expelled of home economics school (yep, that was a thing back then) back to her family in Berlin. Worried about Monika ever finding a husband her mother Caterina manages the dancing school ‘Galant’ on her own and is shocked when she finds out that Monika discovered Rock’n Roll. From then on, nothing stays the same.
The three-part series is well researched and tackles the subjects of female identity, the uprising wish for equality and the universality of human emotions. You can see the last part of the German series at ZDF this Wednesday at 20.15h or watch the whole series online here.
See a trailer right after the jump.
illustration: Jacqueline Pulsack
I LOVE going to the movies. I love seeing visual art and storytelling on the big screen, hearing sound through big speakers, my senses encapsulated. I love the architecture and physical space of going to the movies, entering from city streets into a particular lobby and then into the seats of an auditorium. I love the social aspect of congregating in a dark, silent room with others to pay attention to something important. Yes, I enjoy watching movies at home, but there’s something about a formal start time, a public event, a demand for reverence without distractions that only the cinema provides.
When I moved to Berlin from New York, I was worried how hard it might be to enjoy going to the movies. One of the best things about New York is its unabashed love for film, and the many wonderful theaters that celebrate quality cinema. The German-speaking world is such a big market — and most people are so subtitle-averse — that American films are generally dubbed over in German for theatrical release. If your German is still as bad as mine, this can be a serious problem!