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Berlin's Film Culture

By Jessica Sattabongkot


The Berlin International Film Festival may be over for this year, but if you love film culture, Berlin is a great city to be in all year round! Our local Jessica, a film-maker herself, shares some of her favourite indie cinemas where you can catch international films and indie new releases in their original language. . Check out Jess's profile and book her to explore more of Berlin’s film culture.


If anyone is at all into film culture outside of the usual blockbusters, then Berlin is definitely a great place to be! In a country that loves its voice dubbing, Berlin is a treasure trove of international films with original language screenings and luckily, the city is full of indie cinemas that screen their films without dubbing. Just to be sure though, always look for OMU or OV (meaning either original language with subtitles or just, original language) behind the time listings, otherwise you may find yourself sitting through a German version of a non-German film! And the good news? Every cinema in Berlin sells beer. 


Brotfabrik Berlin

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Berlin is home to many old cinemas that have been restored but not modernised. Some of the oldest include Moviemento (opened 1907), Brotfabrik (translated meaning ‘Bread Factory’, built 1890 as an actual bread factory), Babylon Mitte (1928), Zoo Palast (1957), and Tilsiter Lichtspiele (in 2008 it celebrated it’s 100th year). When you enter these cinemas, the creaky old flooring, the classic cinema seats, or the DDR design in general really give you a cinematic atmosphere. Other Kinos are located in bars, such as Eiszeit Kino and b-ware Ladenkino, which on the outside has a big sign stating that “DIES IST KEIN KINO” meaning “THIS IS NOT A CINEMA” possibly for legal reasons, though that cannot be confirmed...


mobile kino Berlin

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Another possibility to see spontaneous screenings come from two guerrilla screening organisations: Mobile Kino and Mindpirates. Mobile Kino often does screenings at any venue that will allow it. In the summer often in open air areas such as parks and outdoor club venues, and in the winter in bars, small screening rooms, and clubs (of course on days where the club itself is not open for regular clubbing). Mindpirates on the other hand screens consistently in one location simply called ‘The Hole’. They set the small room up every second night of the week, placing sofas, chairs, and tea candles wherever they feel, and invite people in. The screenings usually cost 3 euros. 


Kino Arsenal Berlin Photo credit:

Kino Arsenal specialises in retrospective films, and often screen the films on original film stock which gives a very different, more organic experience of the film. They often collaborate with the film museum which is located right above (and also offers free entry every Thursday evening) and sometimes present lectures on film history. It is located underneath the famous Sony Center on Potsdamer Platz, which also holds CineStar IMAX, the only IMAX theatre in Berlin. Two completely different cinemas built almost on top of each other. 


Freiluftkino Kreuzberg.jpg

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In the summer Berlin offers various different locations and opportunities to see films under an open sky. These are called “Freiluftkino”, literally meaning “open air cinema”. The open air season usually ranges from mid May until the end of August. Start times are calculated according to sunset. There are 4 main venues: Freiluftkino Kreuzberg (located on Mariannenplatz near Kottbusser Tor), Freiluftkino Friedrichshain (located in Volkspark Friedrichshain), Freiluftkino Rehberge (located in Volkspark Rehberge in Wedding), and Freiluftkino Hasenheide (located in Volkspark Hasenheide in Neukölln). 5x and 10x passes are available as well, and can be used in three of the four cinemas. For the Kreuzberg locations it is recommended to arrive a bit early to secure a deck chair, otherwise you will be sitting on plastic chairs (which is not bad either, but a deck chair is certainly better)!


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TAGS: Berlin

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