It takes some courage these days to come up with the plan to open up a cinema in Berlin. First there came the multiplexes, then there came the Internet and although I lost track of the number of Berlin cinemas that had to close down in the last twenty years, it’s fair to say that most small cinema owners are struggling nowadays – especially in a town where you can get everything, all the time, all at once. Wolf owner and founder Verena von Stackelberg is an activist, and this year’s theme of 48 Stunden Neukölln couldn’t be more fitting for her ambitious endeavour: courage. Last night, I took a stroll through the improvised interiors of her soon-to-be cinema in the heart of trendy Neukölln and met Verena for a little pre-opening talk.
Tag: woman filmmaker
People collecting recyclable bottles on the streets of Berlin are a common sight. It’s also common knowledge that if you’re too lazy to return your bottles you don’t throw them in the trash can but put them at the side for collectors to get at them more easily. During the summer, picnickers, revellers and sunbathers often have their empty bottles ready for the inevitable person who wanders around parks and open places, carrying a big plastic bag or a trolley filled with bottles in the hope of making a few Euros for their troubles – a single bottle usually being worth between eight and 25-cents when returned. The understanding between those who have enough and those who make a living from the waste of others often strikes me as unique and without trying to romanticise the situation, can bring an element of dignity to the situation of poverty.
A little hung over, a little cold, a little lazy and ready to watch some films tonight? I’m sure that description fits most Berliners on this gloomy holiday, and – for Christ’s sake it’s Ascension Day! – so let’s all start a heavenly journey to Moviemento and see some sexy and unholy queer films and have a little party at Südblock afterwards. Yes, it’s time for Xposed again and -come on-who wouldn’t love to discover some hot 1960s experimental films by a Swedish underground pioneer slash heroine, watch the new kinky compilation film by art-pornographer Antonio da Silva and listen to Antony and the Johnsons during the opening film?! So get your asses off the couch and start a little pilgrimage to Kottbusser Damm where the next 3 ½ days will be filled with exciting cinematic trips, programmed with love, lust and experience.
It was almost seven years ago that the work of a Berlin-based filmmaker changed the way I watched films entirely. There was a big retrospective at the Arsenal and I was extremely curious to discover someone whose films had labels like “women’s film” “art film” “queer cinema” and “independent director” attached to them. I had seen images of wild costumes, extravagant make-up, outlandish performers and fantastic imagery before I had actually seen the films they were taken from. Of all the magical hours I had spent getting sucked into this mad universe, one film had stayed with me the most. It is called Freak Orlando and its director is a true artist and can be best described as an untamed magician: Ulrike Ottinger.
Phew! Now, that the overall excitement of the Berlinale has settled and there is finally some time, I want to take a personal and selective look back at some of the islands in the festival stream. Here are the first three filmmakers (of four films) that impressed me endlessly and –what a coincidence- all three are female first-time directors who made great and unusual art and hopefully have a long and exciting career ahead of them.