September 2011, arsenal cinema

Flicks at the Iron Curtain - Berlin Border Cinemas from 1950-1961

Border cinema Camera (Estate Friedrich Wilhelm Foss)

The film series, exhibition and website "Flicks at the Iron Curtain – Berlin Border Cinemas 1950–1961" reconstructs the story of the West Berlin border cinemas. Potsdamer Platz played an essential role in the creation of the border cinemas. American film officer Oscar Martay and Berlin cinema operator Friedrich Wilhelm Foss, who ran Camera, the only postwar cinema at Potsdamer Platz, initiated the scheme. The idea was to establish cinemas along the border between the sectors, offering discounted film screenings for East Berliners. The idea was to communicate the values of the "free world" at the height of the Cold War by means of Allied film productions. The films shown at the around 30 border cinemas were received enthusiastically by the inhabitants of East Berlin. There were often heated discussions about the quality of the films being shown there however, with westerns and crime thrillers often receiving particular criticism due to their appeal for young audiences. The film series explores different aspects of the border cinemas.

"West" tanks stood just across from "East" ones in front of the City cinema at Checkpoint Charlie during screenings of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Lewis Milestone, USA 1930, September 2). NACHTS, WENN DER TEUFEL KAM (The Devil Strikes at Night, Robert Siodmak, FRD 1957, September 3) is also about the Berlin co-producer of the film, who owned one of the border cinemas. The DEFA film EINE BERLINER ROMANZE (Gerhard Klein, GDR 1956, script by Wolfgang Kohlhaase, September 3) is a refreshingly non-ideological film about young East Berliners seeking their (cinematic) fortune in the West. As the DIE SÜNDERIN (The Story of a Sinner, Willi Forst, FRG 1950, September 4), Hildegard Knef manages to cloud the senses of East and West Berliners alike. The complete program is available at: www.berliner-grenzkinos.de (Andreas Döhler)

A project by WIR e.V. funded by the Capital Cultural Find.