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16 of Berlin’s best cinephile hotspots

Berlinale is over, but there are plenty of places around the city for cinephiles to get their film fix. We've scouted out the best cine-pheric watering holes, museums and silent movie nights. Plus the top spots for memorabilia and old-school rentals!

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Photo by John Mark Shorack. The Filmantiquariat in Pestalozzistraße is a treasure trove for film memorabilia.

Mad for memorabilia

On the hunt for trinkets, gadgets or just something to watch in bed? Check out the Haupstadt’s slew of markets, shops and galleries.

Filmantiquariat: insiders’ paradise

Need a particular Turkish film poster from 1978 or an unfind­able from 1920s Berlin? An out-of-print volume on Marlene or her Hollywood peers? A vintage figurine of that cartoon character you love (Garfield, Goofy or Winnie the Pooh anyone?), a signed photograph from a GDR actor? There’s a good chance Patricia Kaufmann can help you out. Having taken over the crammed 120sqm treasure trove on Charlottenburg’s Pestalozzistraße 93 a good 12 years ago, the cinephile saleswoman saved this then three-decades-old insid­ers’ institution from being closed down. Her stock is sourced from kinos, distributors, household clear­ances and the lesser-known recesses of the World Wide Web. Some autographs go for a tenner, but its rarest poster, a 1939 hand-painted original of Der ewige Walzer, will set you back €1500.

Filmbörse: second-hand gems

Every three months, some 700 film fanatics descend upon the Teleger Seeterrassen’s Palais am See for a movie flea market extravaganza. Directed by former projection­ist André Zachau, the Filmbörse boasts the larg­est movie bazaar of its kind in the region, offering dealers and buyers the chance to get their hands on coveted film souvenirs, knick-knacks, films (Super 8, VHS, 35mm, DVD and Blu-ray), model kits, trad­ing cards and more from the world of international cinema. A must-see for film nuts since 1996, Zachau’s operation was originally crammed into cinema foyers, before finding a more suitable home at the 1900sqm Palais am See in 2003.

Dussmann Museum Shop: mainstream merch

Ideally situated on the ground floor of the Deutsche Kinemathek film museum (Potsdamer Straße 2), the Dussmann outlet offers a good selection of English books (usually handily displayed so that items related to new or upcoming films are in full view), the latest DVD releases, film soundtracks on CD and vinyl and catalogues of past museum exhibitions. If this isn’t enough, where else are you going to find a coffee table book on James Bond’s 50 years onscreen, those much-coveted Berlinale bags, that Star Wars mug you not-so-secretly pined for, and a retro Star Trek captain’s shirt all under the same roof?

Bücherbogen: niche film lit

Tucked away in the brick viaduct underneath Savignyplatz S-Bahn station, this art bookshop is the place for serious cinephiles ready to invest time and money in their passion. A Berliner institution of 40 years, it features a hand-picked selection of DVDs, along with abun­dantly stocked shelves filled with essays, reference texts and international film magazines. Some can be a bit pricey, but this is mostly because there are a lot of specialised, limited edition and, in some cases, out-of-print publications. But with over 25,000 titles, whether you’re looking for a book-bound collection of horror film posters from the 1960s, a monograph on the contextualised geographical spaces in Michael Haneke’s films, or just the lat­est issue of Sight and Sound or Cahiers du Cinéma – there’s something for everyone.

Pigasus Poster Gallery: Prenzi’s Polish prints

A bit of a hidden gem, this poster gallery-cum-shop on Prenzlauer Berg’s Danziger Straße (number 52) consists of one room filled with film poster art from Poland inspired by the ‘Sztuka’, the Society of Polish Artists. Founded in 2003, Pigasus’ selection ranges from a batshit crazy Taxi Driver poster depicting a darkened silhouette of a person with spikes bursting from its head, to Polish artist Wiktor Górka’s striking legged-swastika design used for the poster of Cabaret. Poster prices vary (from €10 up to €2000 for more unique pieces), while the Laden also features hard-to-find Polish and Russian films on DVD. So check this one out, film freaks – and feel free to pig out!

Nostalgic rentals

Netflix & Co. might be all the rage, but a handful of indie video institutions are still going strong.

Filmkunstbar Fitzcarraldo: cosy and quirky

Going strong since 2004, this Kreuzberg filmbar (Reichenberger Straße 133) is an absolute must for lov­ers of film and disco alike. Inside, you’ll find a bar with a very attractive Happy Hour (17-20:00, €2.50 for 0.5L of Bullenbier), and in the back, a Twin Peaks-reminis­cent room where private screenings can be arranged. The real treasure trove lives downstairs though, where thousands – literally tens of thousands – of rental DVDs await, ready to be loved for the princely sum of €1/day (and a very accommodating policy when it comes to late returns). You can spend hours perus­ing the seemingly never-ending wooden shelves. But beware, German title-translations can be a little, erm… fruity! Did you know that Monty Python and the Holy Grail is translated as Die Ritter der Kokosnuss (The knights of the coconut)! It’s normally packed on weekends after midnight, when the upstairs tables are swept away and the place goes full disco. There’s really no place quite like it.

Filmgalerie Berlin: serious arthouse

Filmgalerie (Invalidenstraße 148, Mitte) is a video shop­that caters well for fans of high-brow experimental fare. It stands for German arthouse at its best (think Berlin New Wave), with a particular focus on risk-taking indie treasures from around the world. With 33 years of experience and over 27,000 titles on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray (rental is €3.50 a pop). This establishment represents one of the largest film archives in Germany. Worth checking out!

Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek: library cards out

When it comes to the sheer number of rentals on offer (more than 56,000 titles in over 40 languages), nothing can beat Berlin’s American Memorial Library. Gifted by the US in 1954 after the end of the Soviet blockade of Berlin (and designed rather unad­venturously by American and German architects, including Willy Kreuer and Fritz Bornemann), AGB (Blücherplatz 1, Kreuzberg) is now one of the city’s public libraries. All you need is a €10 library card (valid for one year, available at any branch) and you can borrow up to 60 items at a time for up to two weeks. On a smaller but no less impressive scale, the Institut Français on Kurfürstendamm 211 provides easy access to 2700 DVDs, which you can either watch in their TV booth in the Médiathèque or take home to enjoy (15 at a time for three weeks).

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Photo by Matthew Berks. Enjoy a tipple in the charming sepia-toned bar at Tilsiter Lichtspiele, Richard-Sorge-Straße.

Cine cafés

Looking for the right setting to discuss your latest kino discoveries? Check out these atmospheric watering holes!

Café Cinema: DEFA’s old haunt

Café Cinema is perfect for a drink and chat pre or post kino. Just a stone’s throw from Yorck’s Hackesche Höfe cinema and Kino Central, the place has long-standing ties to the film biz. Before opening under its current name in 1989, the Bezirk-owned space at Rosen­thaler Straße 39 housed a staff canteen for the GDR film studio (DEFA), whose tobacco-stained film posters – such as 1978’s popular Western Severino and 1988’s family-friendly comedy Schwein gehabt! – are still lining the walls, while film spotlights add to the cinematic flair. The CC, as it is fondly termed by regulars, is also just as much of a bar and meeting spot as it is a café, with drinks (€3 for 2cl whiskey, €7.50 for 4cl moscow mule, cash only) served into the wee hours on every night of the week and a smokers’ den for that post-screening cigarette.

Tilsiter Lichtspiele: bargain tipples

A charming sepia-toned bar greets filmgoers in the cosy and moody interior of Friedrichshain’s Tilsiter Lichtspiele (Richard-Sorge-Straße 25). Built in 1908, Tilsiter is the oldest Kino in the capital after Moviemento. The location’s charisma can be found not only in its generous offering of all-you-can-eat Tarantino or acclaimed documentaries, but also in its drinks menu. Arrive extra early for your showing and kick back with a bargain price gin and tonic (4cl for €4.50) or a cold Tilsiter Hell straight from the bar­rel (0.5L, €2.80).

Wolf Kino: social lunches

Wolf Kino (Weserstraße 59, Neu­kölln) is a great spot to hang out, pick up a copy of your favou­rite all-English magazine and relax before moseying into an OV screening in one of their two bespoke screening rooms (40 and 49-seaters, respectively). This small independent cinema was born in part from a successful 2015 crowdfunding campaign, and benefits from a fully licensed café-bar that opens at 11am (noon on weekends) and closes late in the evening. Prices are very reasonable, with coffee at €2 a cup, wine starting at €2.50 a glass, and weekday lunches courtesy of Machiko’s Japanische Küche for around €8 (think udon soups and teriyaki dishes). The social atmosphere is unlike what you’ll find in most Kinos!

Speechless nights

Fond of the days before the talkies? Berlin has a fair few regular events that will bring you back to the Weimar heyday of silent screens and live music.

Froschkönig: The silent king

The cosy, smoky, dimly-lit bar in Schillerkiez (Weisestraße 17) revives the irretrievable art form with their staple Wednesday Stummfilm series. The films – usually German masterpieces ranging from Lang to Murnau – are projected onto the back wall and accompanied by a solo pianist. The films are a joy, but word to the wise: get there at least one hour before the ivories get tickled (kick off is at 20:30), as the seats fill up quickly and there aren’t that many of them!

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Photo by Marian Stefanowski/Deutsche Kinemathek. Brush up on your German film history at Deutsche Kinemathek in Potsdamer Platz.

Stummfilm Night At Babylon: historically stumm

Co-founded by Stephan Graf von Bothmer in 2005, Stummfilm nights at Mitte’s celebrated and listed Babylon theatre are worth the trip. The series reminds us that Babylon was origi­nally opened in 1929 as a silent film cinema, then complete with an orchestra pit and a cinema organ. It offers the opportunity to watch old-school classics with live piano or organ accompani­ment by Anna Vavilkina, or full orchestral sounds by Babylon Orchestra Berlin, conducted by Marcelo Falcão. The silent nights include free midnight showings every Saturday (zero o’clock, zero euro!), and regular screenings of German expres­sionist classics like the timeless Metropolis, Murnau’s Nosferatu and the hugely influential The Cabinet of Dr. Calligari. They also host the large silent film festival every summer, with an original, gold-framed 4:3 format screen and a restored Philipps multiplex organ to boot!

Stephan Graf Von Bothmer: the travelling maestro

Von Bothmer left the Babylon nest and became something of a legend when it comes to scoring and accompanying silent cinema. From simple solo piano accompaniment to full orchestra and choir extravaganza, the maestro is famous for his interpretations of Lang’s Metropolis and Ruttmann’s 1927 Berlin: Symphony Of A City, and fills concert halls on five continents with his silent film concerts. These days he tends to favour Berlin churches, though. In November he’s set to delight with a church organ accompaniment of Fritz Lang’s 1921 drama Der müde Tod, at Petruskirche. For further diversity, you can also always head West to Arsenal at Potsdamer Platz, whose changing monthly series Magical Mystery Tour ambitiously brings together films around a common denominator to better trace the history of film. It frequently features silent films, whether the piano lid gets opened or not.

Museum deep-dives

From Potsdamer Platz to Potsdam, two exhibition halls spoil film nerds with local celluloid history.

Deutsche Kinemathek: Metropolis, Marlene and be­yond

Whether you’re a studio set design nerd or want to see eye to eye with a 1913 35mm Bell & Howell camera, voyage into German film history at P-Platz’s Film and TV Museum (Wed-Mon 10-18:00, Thu 10-20:00). The permanent display on the third floor takes you on an immersive journey: walk through the dimensionless hall of mirrors that lands you in the world of early cinema glitz including film clips and personal be­longings of Weimar divas from Asta Nielsen to Paula Negri. Delve deeper into the Weimar epoch with a model studio of Robert Wiene’s timeless silent horror movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), before entering the industrial catacombs of Fritz Lang’s 1927 dystopian precognition Metropolis, with early set sketches and a multi-million-Mark production invoice. Devotees of Marlene will be treated to the fashionista’s daz­zling display of costumes and the tower of luggage she took across the pond when fleeing Nazi Germany. Also represented are the darker hours of German cinema, with archive footage of Berlin’s 1936 Olympic Games shot by Nazi propagandist and Triumph of the Will director Leni Riefenstahl. With more contemporary documents in the way of handwritten com­ments made by Das weiße Band director Michael Haneke on his film script and temporary exhibitions (currently: Burn Marks: Posters From a Salt Mine, showing international film posters from before WWII, and, from Feb 13, Be Caligari! The Virtual Cabinet on the thriller’s production history), a trip here is non-negotiable.

Filmmuseum Potsdam: From UFA to DEFA

A mere 45 min-ride from Berlin (and two train stops away from the famous Bablesberg studios), located in the former royal stables smack in the city’s historical centre, Potsdam’s Film Museum (Breite Straße 1A) is one for film history nerds with a soft spot for East German cinema. After paying the €5 entrance fee (Tue-Sun 10-18), the main exhibition takes you straight into the politics of 1940s Trümmerfilme starting with Wolfgang Staudte’s The Murderers Are Among Us, Germany’s first post-war feature film, shot in 1945 among the rubble of Soviet-occupied Berlin, and produced by the newly-founded East-German DEFA Studio. Immerse yourself into the world of German classics by dressing up and re-enacting Emil and the Detectives (1931), Winnetou: Last of the Renegades (1964) or Solo Sunny (1980) in the museum’s casting booth. You can even have your five minutes of Weimar or GDR ‘fame’ emailed to you afterwards! Other highlights include a 1966 video clip of Alfred Hitchcock talking about his beginnings in Weimar-era Babelsberg (in German, no less) and historic filming equip­ment, props and the museum’s own sound booth where you can sing along to iconic film soundtracks such as GDR classic Heißer Sommer. If you still have energy, visit the first-floor exhibit Mit dem Sandmännchen auf Zeitreise (through Decem­ber). It is designed for children to play and learn about space exploration alongside the beloved GDR TV character. You can also catch a flick in the charming in-house cinema, or just re­lax over a beer or a plate of antipasti at the Italian gastro pub also housed in the building.