Filmkultur in der Hauptstadt

Corey Brown
March 4, 2022

As a film major living through the pandemic, I have definitely forgotten the energy entering a bustling cinema. I think this past month has been the first time in years I've seen a sizable group amass for any film other than something made by Disney. I'm talking about my experience at the 72nd Berlinale, otherwise known as the Berlin Film Festival. Over ten days in the middle of winter, many films played to eager audiences, most productions from outside of German-speaking regions. It makes me really happy to see people actually interested in viewing movies in this way again. My local theater back home seldom has any people attend, and therefore I question how long it can fund its operation. And as a film major, all but one of the classes had its required screenings as virtual-only, which in my opinion dulls the viewing experience. Many older films were made for a group audience where the energy of a satisfied crowd often added to the viewer's enjoyment. The fact that all distractions must be put away in a theater allows my mind to stay present in the moment, something increasingly tricky to accomplish with social media. The two films I saw were titled Akyn and Happer's Comet. Akyn portrays a young poet in Kazakhstan and, through the lethargic editing, allows the viewer to question the artform's and poet’s role in modern society. Happer's Comet, on the other hand, plays off the idea of that creepy feeling when walking around late at night in the suburbs. There is no dialogue in the entire one-hour piece, which leaves room for the audience to come in and out of attention, like listening to music. The movie acts more as an ambiance to your daydreaming. I particularly enjoyed this one due to the frivolous nature of its plot. What people were doing didn't really matter, but rather the way it was filmed and edited led to a very serene and sometimes eerie atmosphere. For both screenings, the Delphi Filmpalast was at capacity for what Covid measures allowed, which was exciting to see for films so niche. Back home for example, I saw Titane and I Am Your Man at the local theater in Waltham, Massachusetts last fall. Both screenings sold only 3 tickets, including mine. Berlin does have 3.5 million people compared to Waltham’s 60,000, but with similar small gatherings for screenings of The Lighthouse, Parasite, and Jojo Rabbit before the pandemic, it seems like there is barely a market for arthouse cinema in the suburbs.

Outside of Berlinale, the city also contains more theaters than I can count. In February, Tempelhof (a former airport whose tarmac is now a public field) became a makeshift movie theater and played films such as House of Gucci, The Father, and classics like Hitchcock's Psycho. I was excited by the number of movies they played outside of blockbusters. Even still, Berliner news outlets criticized Tempelhof for "pedestrian programming." Other non-traditional experiences include Babylon, which plays silent films like Metropolis with a live orchestra, as they were originally upon release. It makes sense that a place so densely packed with creatives would be bound to have some unique film-going experiences. Although many of the films screened in Berlin aren't created in Germany, the fact that many niche and experimental films can find an audience here speaks to the creative essence of the Hauptstadt. Checking out local theaters as I discover the city is definitely a priority for me while studying abroad.

Corey Brown

<p>Guten Tag! Ich heiße Corey! I come from a small town named Groveland, Massachusetts about an hour north of Boston and now study at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. I have a double major in Film and German with a minor in Studio Art and am studying abroad in Berlin Spring 2022. In my free time I tap dance (for the past 15 years), finger paint with oils on canvas, and direct an improv comedy podcast. In Berlin I'm super excited to live in a city for the first time and experience the hustle bustle on a daily basis.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2022 Spring
Home university:
Brandeis University
Hometown:
Groveland, MA
Major:
Film Studies
German Language
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