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Archive for the ‘Cinemas’ Category

Kino Zoo Palast, Berlin

Posted by keith1942 on March 28, 2019

online photograph – berlin-gaycities-com

This cinema is sited between the Zoologischer Garten Berlin, the Berlin Zoologischer Garten Station and close to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at the top of the Kurfürstendamm. There is an U-Bahn station opposite, the S-Bahn serves the nearby Garten and a number of the excellent Berlin bus services pass by.

One of the main venues for the Berlinale, during the rest of the year this multi-screen runs as a mainly mainstream venue. It was built in 1957 and then it was distinctive in having two auditorium. The opening in 1957 was graced by Liselotte Pulver. One of her memorable performances seen outside Germany was as Elizabeth Kruse Graeber in A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1957) and she had a standout sequence in One, Two, Three (1961) as secretary Fräulein Ingeborg, entertaining East German officials whilst James Cagney’s C.R. MacNamara demonstrated the superiority of Machiavellian capitalism.

The cinema was extensively rebuilt in 2010 as part of a larger project in the area. The redesign was careful to prese4ve many of the features of the original and the impressive façade was restored as were parts of the entrance and the existing auditorium.

Now the cinema offers five auditorium and it includes the facility for both digital and ‘reel’ film. The exterior is eye catching with coloured lights playing over the façade. The night I went some celebrities appeared to be leaving after a screening and the small plaza outside was packed with onlookers.

Room 1 is the main auditorium and seats 780 people. It has 70mm projection, [installed in 2018], 4K digital projection with 3D and Atmos sound. The screen is 21 metres by 8.8 metres, There is wood panelling with red velvet.

the oval ceiling with light vaults, which looks like a starry sky through dot lights. With new LED lighting, you can set a wide variety of lighting moods in the hall. This opportunity is exhausted in the great new pre-show before every film, which is likely to be unique in Germany so far. Not only are there three curtains (a red, a yellow and a cloud curtain) but also a fourth curtain of water spraying from the ceiling!”

The manager I spoke to stated that they now have five 70mm screenings a year. These all seem to be, like the general programme, mainstream releases. Recently they have had The Hateful Eight and Dunkirk. They have not screened Roma [4K digital] so far; it seems it is not considered mainstream, but the Oscars may change that.

Room 2 was the original auditorium for 70mm and it also has 2K digital projection with 3D and Dolby 7.1.. The screen is 14.8 by 6.2 metres and the auditorium seats 270. The reel projector here [and in room 1] is a Philips DP75 which can also screen from 35mm prints. This was the auditorium I visited and it has a similar décor to room 1 but predominantly pink. The semi-circular auditorium has good seating and viewing. The proscenium has rich tapestries and has proper masking.

This auditorium, along with rooms 3 and 4 has it own entrance lounge. Room 3 seats 150 with 2K digital and Dolby 7.1,with a 11.8 by 5.8 metre screen. Room 4 seats 160 with 2K digital and 3D with Dolby 7.1 and a 14 by 5.9 screen. Room 5, tucked away at the back, seats 150 with 2k digital and Dolby 7.1 sound with a screen 12.1 by 5.1 metres.

There is a smalls screening area in the ‘blubkino’ bar and there are two other facilities offering coffees etc. and some meals. I thought this a really attractive venue. The cinemas were comfortable, the projection [[digital] and sound was fine and the presentation well done.

Cineastes should definitely put this venue on their list to visit and enjoy in Berlin.

I saw a Chinese film, Ye (The Night, 2014), part of the Panorama 40 programme. This was ‘cinema with a long-term memory’, celebrating 40 years at the Berlinale of the Panorama section. Dedicated to ‘convention-busting’ films, 2019 was revisiting of some of the titles from the earlier years.

The Night dealt with the ‘Lives of male and female prostitutes in China’ and was written, directed and stared Hao Zhou. This was a student film shot mainly on location in colour and black and white. The three main protagonists were played by Hao Zhou, Xiao Xiao Liu, Jin Kang Li. They are variously a male prostitute, a female prostitute and a tyro. The setting for the various sequences in the film is always a lit stairway in a red light area. Zhou character is a narcissistic pro and the other two circle round him like moths round a flame. The film is well done and has particular edgy camerawork. The sound track uses Chinese songs whose lyrics comment on the characters. But the constant revisiting of the same location and variation on a ménage a trois becomes repetitive. I found the 95 minutes over indulgent and the final resolution predictable.

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Kino International, Berlin

Posted by keith1942 on March 1, 2019

This prestige cinema is sited seven minutes from Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. It was at one time the premier cinema of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. In 1958 one of the pioneer urban planning and construction projects was started along the Karl – Marx – Allee. The International was a part of a number of buildings placed around the Schillingstraße U-Bahn station. The cinema opened in 1963 as the prime site of DEFA [Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft]. The occasion presented the screening of Optimistic Tragedy (Optimisticheskaya tragediya, USSR 1963). This film was set during the 1917 revolution and its lead character was a female commissar; a handy choice given that DEFA already had more female directors than the industry in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

As a prestige project the International was graced with special care and style on both its exterior and interior. As well as an impressive glass frontage the building had a series of sculptures specially designed to illustrate scenes from ‘everyday socialist life’.

Entry to the cinema is through a ground floor vestibule with stairs leading to spacious and stylish lounges and bars. The entrance to the auditorium is through large and high wood panelled doors. The actual auditorium, which seats 551, has a gentle incline down to the proscenium. There is a large central block of seats and separate blocks on the left and right. The large screen, 17 metres by 9.2 metres, is behind two sets of drapes. Standard blue and when these part they reveal pail-studded white curtains; I assume the latter are the originals.

The projection box at the rear of the auditorium has 35mm, 70mm and 4K digital projection with Dolby Digital sound. Unfortunately there were not any 70mm screenings during my stay. A friend told me that the favoured seat of one-time leader Erik Honecker has a little plaque. In a crowded auditorium I was unable to check.

It is a splendid venue in which to watch a film. On this occasion we had a new release in the Berlinale Out of Competition, The Operative (Germany, Israel, USA, ). This title did not match its setting but the production values were good so I did get sense of the quality of the digital projection and sound system.

This is a recommended call on any trip to Berlin. There is the Schillingstraße or the Alexanderplatz, both on the excellent U-Bahn and the latter also enjoys the city bus services. I am sure the great prophet would be happy to have his street graced by this temple to an art form that hopefully will survive until the point at which socialism replaces capitalism.

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