Berlin’s fresh cinematic force
The Berlin Film Society’s eight week documentary series includes SXSW-winner Marwencol, about the fantasy world of a man who was beaten into a brain-damaging coma.
Art and grunge go hand in hand in Berlin. Opera shows are staged in former swimming pools, contemporary art is displayed on the scruffy walls of World War II bunkers and open air raves are held in abandoned spy towers. So the Berlin Film Society’s (BFS) decision to host their new event series in Urban Spree, a former railway maintenance yard, is par for the course in a city obsessed with both edgy creativity and urban decay.
Founded at the start of 2012, BFS has quickly asserted itself as a fresh cinematic force in the city, producing dynamic events characterised by films, venues and, where possible, Q&As with directors. For their latest project, Documentary Donnerstag (Documentary Thursday), which starts 28 March, the society will present a new documentary every Thursday for eight weeks – all curated from leading independent film festivals (including Cannes, Sundance, Berlinale, Raindance) and presented in their original language with English subtitles.
The programme includes the recently restored version of Shirley Clarke's groundbreaking Portrait of Jason (1967) on 11 April, a documentary about a would-be cabaret performer and self-proclaimed hustler that was lost for decades and restored in time to become a major hit at Berlin’s star-studded Berlinale; Chris Marker's landmark sci-fi movie Sans Soleil (1983) on 4 April; and Jeff Malmberg’s SXSW-winner Marwencol (2010) on 28 March, a documentary about the fantasy world of a man who was beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar.
Since BFS events tend to draw a diverse crowd, from hipsters to diplomats, these screenings represent a perfect opportunity to mingle with an interesting set of locals at the open rum bar, as well as catch some great independent films.
Tickets cost €8 and are available at the door, though an RSVP is recommended. And if you’re in town on 5 April, the BFS will also be showing Weimar masterpiece The Blue Angel (1930) at an abandoned 1920s silent cinema that has been closed to the public since World War II.
Paul Sullivan is the Berlin Localite for BBC Travel. He also runs/writes slowtravelberlin.com