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Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Berlin: The perfect location for lovers of film and a luxury lifestyle

Zoo Palast cinema - a truly luxury experience (Photo by Jan Bitter)The experience of going to the cinema is one that is enjoyed by many as a way to escape into another world, even if just for a few hours. In Berlin, there are plenty of opportunities to do this including the Berlinale Film Festival and various independent cinemas that have made the experience a lot more luxurious.

Cinemas located on the Potsdamer Platz tend to be the centre of attention. Primarily showing blockbuster films in their original language, it is also the setting of many illustrious international premiers where the elite of the Hollywood set arrive in their droves to the Sony Center with its ‘CineStar’ theatre and the ‘Cinemaxx’ next door. However, there are a number of smaller cinemas in the city that provide a more private, luxurious experience.

An historic tradition of cinema

The ‘Zoo Palast’ cinema in the Charlottenburg district offers film-goers a truly lavish experience with plush box seats in intimate theatres designed to look like home libraries with a glass of champagne brought to you on arrival. It returned as a Berlinale location in 2014 following a complete redesign and refurbishment from 2010 to 2013 but has a great history of cinema. It was showing films as long ago as 1915 and over the years has held the premier for future classics including Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) and had to be entirely rebuilt following its almost complete destruction during the Second World War.

A luxurious cinematic experience

A journey back in time awaits you at the ‘Astor Film Lounge’, a listed building that opened in 2008 and offers a highly luxurious cinematic experience reminiscent of days gone by. Staff in formal attire provide a cloakroom service, valet parking and sparkling wine in your seat with individual footstool before settling down for blockbuster films and live broadcasts of opera and ballet performances, a service far superior to your average multiplex.

Modern and fashionable at ‘Kino International’

Kino International - long history of film premiers (Photo by Daniel Horn, Yorck Kinogruppe)Right in the heart of the fashionable Karl-Marx-Allee in former East Berlin, the ‘Kino International’ has been a popular location for events, international premiers and a meeting point for young people since it opened in 1959. It is renowned as a chic place to go and has been the site for innumerable premiers including the classic Trace of Stones in 1966 and is still popular today for the release of many international films, parties and private events.

Its modern design by the architects Heinz Aust and Josef Kaiser also contribute to its popularity and it was inspired by the Socialist design implemented throughout East Berlin including other buildings by the same architects (Café Moskau, Kosmos Cinema). It has even been featured recently in a film by Steven Spielberg masquerading as the Zoo Palast in the 1960s. The ‘International’ now serves as a fantastic entertaining venue and it stopped showing films in 2005.

Unique venues for cultural evenings

Further East of Berlin there are two particularly appealing cinema venues. The ‘Filmtheater am Friedrichshain’ in Prenzlauer Berg formally known as ‘Olympia’ when it opened in 1925 has a fantastic neoclassic façade and is now owned by the Yorck Cinema Group. When they took it over they overhauled the building to give each theatre an individual style and unique ambience which has become highly popular. There is also a fantastic beer garden for enjoying a drink after the film in the summer months. Another cinema from the same period is the ‘Babylon Mitte’ in Rosa-Luxembourg-Platz and is a charming venue that hosts film screenings, concerts and readings and was formally a silent movie theatre.

Watch films like a local

The Neues Off cinema - independent films (Photo by Daniel Horn, Yorck Kinogruppe)The little-known ‘Neues Off’ cinema is truly a hidden gem and totally unknown to tourists. This is due to its plain exterior that belies the rich and colourful interiors of this charming cinema that specialises in giving independent films a platform and is part of the Yorck Cinema Group. It dates back almost 100 years and was colloquially known as the ‘Rixi’ (Rixdorfer Lichtspielen) before being taken over.

Finally, great things really do come in small packages as exemplified by the ‘Tilsiter Lichtspiele’ in Friedrichshain with just 66 seats and a charming bar, this cinema has been running since the beginning of the 20th Century and has a long cinematic history in an enchanting setting.

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