On my first visit to Berlin, a man spat at my feet. His eyes were the eyes of a soldier at war. Precise, alert, and distrusting. And he had just spotted a body he considered the enemy. That body was queer, stout, and black. We were sitting across from each other on a train headed towards the direction of Alexanderplatz. A few moments before, I had just described Berlin to my mother as the embrace of a dearly loved one. Warm, soft, and safe. As I was peeling my phone from my ears, the spitter looked me in the face, coughed out the whiteish foam which he splashed across my feet. The act of spitting at my feet wasn’t a cleansing and or a fortification ritual done to welcome my feet to new and uncharted terrain. That was disgust, anger, and a kind of aggression that sent shivers down my spine. He was sending a clear message. One that was unmistakably meat to say; you are not welcome here. His message had three clear intentions; to warn me, put me in my place, and remind me I did not belong. He needed me to know that. It resonated. I didn’t even say a word. I took the message, got off the train one stop before my intended exit location. There, I waited for the next train in a stooping position. With a sigh and a paper napkin, I wiped my feet clean again.
photos: Andrea Hansen.
Hidden amongst other notes hanging from a lamppost, not far from my apartment in Friedrichshain, something caught my eye.
Berlin – the city whose residents communicate via notes:
Apartment-hunters, declarations of love, Weltschmerz, lost teddy bears, the announcement of a party, sometimes also the announcement of a natural home birth and accompanied by a request not to call the police due to the resulting noise. There is nothing that cannot be said in Berlin using this form of communication.
The note that caught my eye was asking for help on an indie movie set.
As far as sustainability goes, we’re super lucky to be living in Berlin. I’m reminded of this every time I speak to friends and family back home. Often marketed as trendy, time-consuming, and expensive, a lot of people assume you have to completely overhaul your lifestyle to be more sustainable…but that’s simply not true. Being more sustainable is about figuring out what you use the most, and then finding a way to get those same products in a way that doesn’t have such a negative impact on our planet.
There are some fantastic unpackaged stores to choose from in Berlin that not only enable us to support local businesses and encourage innovation but also give us the power to refuse — to send a clear message that we don’t want our products wrapped in plastic. And because we live in Berlin, we can achieve this without too much extra effort on our part, and without breaking the bank.
In trying to get back to a sense of normalcy again, we must all agree that a lot has happened. People have lost their lives. Children have whisked themselves away from family responsibilities into distant places to ensure their parent’s safety. Plans have been shifted, changed, and postponed. Jobs, relationships, and several other opportunities have evaporated into thin air. Universities, Shops, and Restaurants have turned down services. Schools and other institutions have closed their doors and turned towards the digital. And we are now learning new ways of treating ourselves and each other as we find better alternatives to our lives. In the spirit of wanting to take a new leave, I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I forced myself to remember. I reflected on my past. I traveled through certain corners of my mind I had completely cut off for reasons I cannot say out loud without risking putting myself in an uncomfortable position.
As if this year wasn’t already like a Kubrick film, mysterious monoliths like the one in 2001: Space Odyssey started appearing around the world. And I bet you didn’t know that Berlin had its own.
The first monolith, found in Utah’s Red Rock Country by some biologists surveying bighorn sheep from a helicopter, was placed there sometime in 2016.
Berlin is known as the LGBTQIA+ capital of the world, with its reputation dating 100 years back. The city welcomes all types of people, making it the perfect place for otherwise marginalized groups to feel not only at home but also celebrated and – why not? – normal. Its nightlife is famous for being open to all sorts of experimentation.
In the 24h+ parties, people from all walks of life express themselves freely and expansively. Everybody can exist, take up space, and move however they feel comfortable.
Dear film lovers,
Have you spent the whole summer re-watching Parasite in every language and overdosed on Little Women in every Freiluftkino in town? (sidenote: yes, we also miss the Greta Gerwig from Lady Bird) Let’s not even talk about your unhappy relationship with your brand-new video on demand platform (#sosadsohorny). We know you are missing the plush velvet of the cinema seat and are longing for the romantic darkness of the theater and the mystical energy wrapped up in it. You are like us: yearning for a new type film event like the Porn Film Festival, Berlin Feminist Film Week, The Xposed International Queer Film Festival, Woche der Kritik and of course the gold standard, Berlinale.
Film freaks, we have something that is just for you: the fourth edition of the Visionär Film Festival. Originally slated to begin in April (go home Ms. Corona), the festival will take place (in person!) from September 21st to 28th. VFF showcases new talents, offering a selection of filmmakers from around the world who prove to be daring, original, and visionary in their debut full-length films. Because there are only so many hours in the day, here is a guide to the must-see films:
The Movie Chasing Paper Birds premieres on the 17th of September and is going to trigger a nostalgic feeling in many of us. It is a film that gives a raw and beautiful insight into Berlin’s soul in the decade of the 2010s, with the focus on Friedrichshain and all the different characters that made this Kiez so special.
As a former director of music videos and image films, Mariana Jukica has made it possible to perceive Berlin’s spirit and captured every spark. She awakens memories of a lived madness, in a time before touristy hooligans took over the city.
The movie is narrated from three perspectives. Mia, Keks and Ian, who are in their late twenties to early thirties, are all on the run from reality and on the hunt for their own personal happiness.
photos: Eylül Aslan.
Berlin’s dating scene is shaped by three important factors. First of all, mostly thanks to its kinky parties, Berlin is a city commonly characterized by a spirit of sexual liberation. Secondly, while it’s a popular choice for international expatriates, some see it as an ultimate destination, and others as a temporary stop. And finally, the notion of “finding yourself” in Berlin is used equally often as a synonym for deep soul-searching and as an excuse for flaky behavior.
The clubs of Berlin have reopened with new, Corona-friendly daytime concepts but one key element is missing: dancing. This has forced Berliners to deconstruct the idea of clubbing and ask themselves what they were searching for in clubs before and where they can find it now.
At the risk of stating the obvious, dancing is a big part of club culture. It is fun, it is a way to enjoy the music, and it is refreshing not to sit straight and hold a conversation all the time while being intoxicated. Consequently, the lockdown gave new life to the recently somewhat neglected illegal rave culture. The second part of this series investigates the illegal, private, and spontaneous dance parties that have been popping up all over the city and the controversies surrounding them.