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Screen zines: A film freak’s guide to Berlin’s movie media

Berlin is a city for cinephiles, but it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the choice of kinos, festivals and screenings. Here's our guide to the guides: Podcasts, zines and blogs by film-lovers, for film-lovers.

Kino International, Friedrichshain. Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons

CinePhil (blog)

The accessible spirit of the 2000s internet lives on at CinePhil, a popular – and incredibly extensive – English-language film blog based in Berlin. In 2019, British expat Phil Butland began publishing movie reviews online – and then the pandemic accelerated his pet project.

“The big shift was when I lost my job towards the beginning of lockdown,” he explains. “I had lots of time and a yearly ticket for Yorck cinemas, so I could go as often as I wanted for no extra cost.” In 2019 and 2020, he reviewed over 150 films; in 2021, he nearly hit 300. Now, CinePhil posts nearly every day, sometimes with multiple updates: reviews of recent screenings in Berlin or pieces on older films, from horror B-movies to blockbusters to video art. Butland ultimately settles on a verdict of “Go see this”, “So So” or “Not for Me”. The result is an online monument to one man’s boundless enthusiasm.

  • Read the blog here

Revolver (magazine)

Here’s one for the serious Kino cognoscenti – or at least those with a little German. Revolver is a big gun: every aspiring filmmaker in town owns, or has read, at least one of their issues. Founded in Munich in 1998 by director trio Benjamin Heisenberg, Christoph Hochhäusler and Sebastian Kutzli, the magazine has earned its reputation over the course of 45 print issues.

Revolver #22. Published collectively by Revolver

Intelligent, serious and well-connected, Revolver publishes interviews with and essays by filmmakers, but they don’t run regular reviews or promotional material. For all its prestige, the magazine is an idealistic enterprise. All the current editors work for free, and price of each issue covers only the cost of production. Grab a copy – available in print and online – and glean an insight into the minds of some of the world’s finest film minds.

  • Published biannually and available for €7 per issue. Buy it in bookstores or online

Fireflies Zine (magazine)

Founded in 2014 by Annabel Brady-Brown, a journalist and writer living in Melbourne, and the Berlin-based film writer and editor Giovanni Marchini Camia, this print mag is both journalistic and artistic. In each issue, two filmmakers are chosen as the theme. The editors then source contributions about these filmmakers from an international cast of film critics, novelists, poets and visual artists.

Firelfies #6. Cover art by James Geoffrey Nunn.

The latest issue, which was dedicated to Albert Serra and Alain Guiraudie, included in-depth interviews with both directors alongside an eclectic array of responses to their work: poetry and fiction, drawings inspired by Serra’s cinematography, a “psychogeographic exploration” of cruising spots in Guiraudie’s home region of France. The magazine now appears irregularly while the pair expand into publishing books about film – a natural fit, perhaps, given that their magazine issues are cinephile collector’s items.

Mmeansmovie (blog)

A vital online resource for local cinephiles, this online landing spot compiles news about Berlin film releases and festivals along with reviews from the German-speaking media. Founded in 2001, this Berlin-based publication is the definitive resource for independent cinema. A billboard on its homepage lists new films currently screening, while another section catalogues out the city’s indie Kinos with addresses, website links and phone numbers.

Freiluftkino Hasenheide. Photo: Aki Güldner

Another section – particularly valuable in the summer – is dedicated to open air cinemas. This long list of Freiluftkinos includes schedules, pricing information and directions: all easy enough to find online but rarely in one place. Berlinale obsessives also have a dedicated section for news updates relating to the festival. You might want to get your commentary and criticism elsewhere – especially if you prefer it in English – but the raw data is all there on this site.

  • Read the blog here

The Haunted Screen (podcast)

International cinephiles looking for a more detailed take on Berlin’s rich cinematic past – and where it stands in the history of the 20th century – should press play on this podcast. Travis Mushett, a US-based film professor, felt there was a lack of podcasts talking about international films in a way that reflected the medium’s interconnection with economics, politics and culture, and employed extensive research to explore the history of global cinema for a general audience.

The Haunted Screen: Still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (dir. Robert Wiene, 1920)

For the first season, ‘From Caligari to Hitler’, he chose Weimar Germany’s film industry, touching on local classics like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu and Metropolis. Mushett explains that the season aimed to show “what this era’s movies can teach us about a time that had unsettling parallels to our own”. He has lived in Berlin for two summers but continues his work producing, writing, hosting and editing the podcast from his Brooklyn home. If the Berlin-heavy first season sparks an interest, sit tight for the next season about the French New Wave and the Italian Giallo genre.

Movie Night (zine)

Cover art by Sophia DeRise

This Berlin zine, first published in 2015, took as its prompt the following question: What if we turned our group movie night into a printed comic anthology?

The resulting zine was inspired by comic artists Wilm Lindenblatt, Lizz Lunney and Roland Holzer’s university days: “I spent most of my evenings watching films and running movie nights with friends,” says Lindenblatt. They wanted to publish a zine where a number of different artists contributed sketches in their own style based on a movie. The anthology would be both social and personal – an act of sharing, just like the eponymous event. “Reading the zine should feel like going to a fun movie night,” Lindenblatt explains. Berlin comic artists like Aike Arndt, Tine Fetz and Sophia Hirsch all contributed alongside Lindenblatt and Lunney. The sketches are in German and English, and a second Movie Night is expected this year.