Movie City: Berlin

By Peter Bowen | February 17, 2010
Berlin Berlin

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Berlinale, Movie City takes a visit to Europe.

Although the Lumière brothers have often been credited with the first dramatic exhibition of film, two other brothers, Max and Emil Skladanowsky, in Berlin actually projected a movie two months earlier at Berlin’s Wintergarten Theater. Max, a former glassmaker who had tinkered around to create a primitive movie camera, shot a short movie of his brother dancing on the roof of their Berlin home. 100 years later, noted German director Wim Wenders, who also captured the look of Berlin from rooftops in his poetic drama Wings of Desire, made a film about the cinematic pioneers. From Skladanowsky to Wenders to filmmakers today, cinema has been a constant feature of life in Berlin. As has rooftops.

In the current Movie City, we visit Berlin, partially because February is the month of the Berlin International Film Festival, now celebrating its 60th year. In commemoration, we look back at crucial dates in the festival’s feisty history. Also we take to the red carpet to catch the directors and the stars at the premiere of Greenberg. And we let filmmaker/photographer Alix Lambert capture the general feel of the fest. David Parkinson recounts the history of UFA, one of the great film studios housed in Berlin. Finally, David Hudson fills us in on the city’s movie theaters and Scott Macaulay looks at the many films that have made Berlin both a destination and a character.


<p>Ben Stiller arrives and German camera phones go up in the air like lighters at a concert.</p>

Alix Lambert's Berlin

Artist & writer Alix Lambert captured Greenberg’s red carpet premiere from a different angle.


Ben Stiller, director Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig, and Rhys Ifans on the red carpet at the Berlin Film Festival.

Greenberg on the Red Carpet in Berlin

Greenberg premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on February 14, 2010.



The Berlin Film Festival

The Years of the Berlin Film Festival

The Berlinale turns 60 this year. What a strange journey it’s been.



UFA’s Palast am Zoo movie theatre

UFA - The Iconic Contradiction

David Parkinson, FilmInFocus’ resident film historian, casts an eye over the history of UFA, the studio that played a central role in Berlin’s cinematic history.


Wings of Desire

Berlinale Goes Kiez

Berlin resident David Hudson takes a look at the Berlin Film Festival’s new Berlinale Goes Kiez program, which pairs the city’s movie theaters with homegrown film directors.

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