Berlin’s Neighbourhood Cinemas

In a world overrun with antiseptic 18-plexes appended to insipid shopping centres, Berlin’s Kiez-Kinos are a source of no small delight for cinephiles. They invariably crop up in unexpected locations, and many look to be about the size of your front room, but most exude the unmistakable cool of an exotically misremembered recent past … and, more importantly, all of them show films.

Here at Berlin Typography HQ we like films as much as anyone (especially if those films happen to be directed by Tarkovsky, Rivette or Buñuel), but our unshakable attraction to Berlin’s Kiez-Kinos has as much to do with their magnificent signs as their film programmes. Many of the smallest neighbourhood cinemas seem to have emerged – or at least had their final refurb – at a time when both neon craftsmanship and typographic elegance were at their respective heights, and their hugely distinctive, often wonderfully quirky signs never fail to stand out among the Spielhalles and Spätis of any street.

During our travels we have discovered numerous gems on major shopping streets and in quiet residential areas, in the heart of the city’s centre and in the lesser-trodden neighbourhoods around the edges. In honour of the 67th Berlinale, which will take place at various venues throughout the city between 9–19 February, we are delighted to present a selection of our favourite Berlin cinemas.

Friedenau-4

The Cosima, in Friedenau’s Wagner-Kiez. The streets in the area are all named after heroines from Wagner operas, except for Cosimaplatz, named for his second wife.

Weissensee-3-2

Weissensee’s Kino Toni.

Charlottenburg-65

The Kant Kino on Kantstraße in Charlottenburg. Apparently Joy Division played their only Berlin gig here in 1980.

Wilmersdorf-9-2

The Bundesplatz Studio located, unsurprisingly, at Bundesplatz.

Steglitz-60

The Adria in Steglitz has perhaps the most beautiful cinema sign in Berlin. Apparently, however, they only have two Ls in their collection of movable type; if you look closely you’ll see the L in ‘Land’ was once a U.

Neukölln-41

Speaking of movable type, the Off Kino in Neukölln has gone out of their way to make the ‘Strange’ as strange as possible.

Niederschönhausen-2

The lovely Blauer Stern in Niederschönhausen.

Wilmersdorf-5

The gold star for cursive neon goes to the Eva Lichtspiele in Wilmersdorf.

If you don’t already, you should follow us at @Berlin_Type on Twitter, for your daily dose of typographic goodness from Berlin.

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5 thoughts on “Berlin’s Neighbourhood Cinemas

  1. Such an interesting visual topic to explore. Thanks for writing this blog! One question as I’m a beginning level learner of German. I know what a Spielhalle is, but what are “Spätis”? I’m guessing some kind of business that stays open late at night…

    Like

    1. Glad you like it! Späti is short for ‘Spätkauf’ which, as the name suggests, is a place where you can buy things (mostly booze, crisps and cigarettes) late into the evening. They are a crucial feature of Berlin life, but not as common elsewhere in Germany…

      Like

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