The way in which we experience film and cinema has changed in such ways the past 60 or 70 years that we hardly remember how classic films are supposed to look or we barely notice how projectors are supposed to sound. Even in the past decade, from the venue, to the quality of the film and the technologies used to make it have influenced and transformed completely the way we watch and experience films. We now even have to cope with the domination of the 3-D extravaganza, I personally, have never enjoyed the idea of having another extra pair of glasses on my nose while watching a film, and don’t get me started on the Google Glass project, but this is another matter. This three-dimensional film revolution has got me longing for simplicity, for creating a galaxy from a cup of coffee, nothing else and nothing more.
Longing for old cinema-making felt stronger after having watched the film ¡No!, a 2012 Chilean drama film on the campaign of 1988 over whether general Augusto Pinochet should have another 8-year term as President. The film was filmed with cameras used in the 80s and it was precisely the texture, colours and lights of the cameras used that gave the film the atmosphere and context of the Chile of 1988, it was beautiful.
Whilst walking abouts, I stumbled upon this 'Kino' the other day and encouraged my flatmate to join me for a film. The place looked more like a brothel or some kind of dark bar where people either play poker or risk their lives with Russian roulette. Old canvases hang on the wall with broken mirrors and old images of virgins and holy spirits. The atmosphere was so surreal I could only believe such places could exist in Berlin and in Berlin only. This is also when I realised how the ambiance of cinemas has changed dramatically, to such extent that we hardly get to feel the arty and bohemian experience of enjoying a good film. Traditional theatres hardly exists anymore, except those which have adopted a vintage look to attract either those of us who long for the past or those who feel extremely trendy when going to an art-deco, old-fashioned theatre.
Far from being vintage or trendy, this B-ware Kino, which translates to ‘B merchandise’ or B-film genre, takes both the alternative and the classy to its extremes. What struck me the most was the setting: what could have perfectly served as a café –or then again a brothel or a dark Russian bar- was suddenly turned into a ‘living room’ whereby people would move their sofas or old divans towards the screen, out of nowhere. It felt as if the thirty of us who paid to go to the cinema, were unexpectedly in an old family room from the 40s. It definitely felt more social than any other cinema I have visited before.
On top of that, the massive projector displaying the film on the other room made such a gorgeous noise, I wished I could have one at home that would make such a sound, the sound of old film watching and making. Call me a nostalgic, -I love the way my old Canon AE-1 sounds when taking a photo-, but the mechanics of it all reminds me of how fast things are moving between us and how less and less attentive we have become to how things used to look and how machines used to sound.
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If anyone is interested: B-ware! Ladenkino is on the Gärtnerstr. 19, in Berlin Friedrichshain.
DISCLAIMER: I'm terribly sorry for the lack of quality, but this is all my iPhone could get from it. The sound makes up for it though.