A 10-minute stroll from Berlin’s recently re-opened Zoo Palast (see here) is another legendary Berlin Cinema called Cinema Paris, housed in the cultural center that is the Institut Francais on Kurfürstendamm, just one of many cinemas in Berlin currently screening Yves Saint Laurent. Built in 1897, after a first reconstruction in the 20s and the partial destruction during World War II, the architect Hans Semrau was commissioned by the British military government to design the house as a new French cultural center. The result was the Maison de France which was opened in by the French allies and Cinema Paris soon followed in April 1950.
As the cinematic landscape of Berlin is diverse, the programmers of the classic format one-screen Cinema Paris see themselves as cultural mediators and program with passion and care in regards to art-house films. Selecting the most interesting, moving, entertaining and stimulating contemporary releases, the program of the Cinema Paris is dominated by French productions and European cinema. The inclusion of films in the original French versions has helped build a huge core audience of film buffs over the years ranging from Francophiles to ‘ordinary’ moviegoers, not just from Berlin but across Europe.
The biopic of Yves Saint Laurent has been playing at Cinema Paris for many weeks now and is currently complimented by early evening screenings of Cathedrals of Culture (Kathedralen der Kultur), an intriguing German-Denmark-Austrian documentary on six very different but renowned buildings that also played in this year’s Berlinale (out of competition). At nearly three hours long it has six renowned directors, including Wim Wenders (who initiated the project) and Robert Redford, all contributing a piece on a building that is very special to them. The use of 3D gives the added wow factor, though may not be for traditionalists. The Berlin connection is that Wenders chose to film the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall which instantly inspired him as a work of modernity, of the future.
Unfortunately, such pleasures of escaping into Cinema Paris heaven for bona fide French culture In Berlin may not continue for much longer. In April 2013, the closure and sale of the Maison de France in 2015 was announced, although this is currently being fought against. However, if you visit Berlin in the next year, you would be advised to go and visit this excellent institution while you still can, not least its classic format one-screen cinema.
Website: http://www.cinema-paris.de/kino/ (in Deutsch)