Saturday, April 08, 2006

04.04.06 Germany: Berlin

The Berlin shows were amazing--definitely our best yet.

We arrived at the Eiszeit Kino amidst a wild hail storm, the likes of which I've never seen. We had planned to arrive early so Johannes could give me a little walking tour of the city, but I was so cold that I barely remember anything we saw, except for a beautiful synagogue which is one of the few to have been rebuilt among the almost 2,000 destroyed during WWII.

Man, I was really unprepared for the "spring" weather here in Germany,and I am so glad that I decided at the very last minute to throw one big sweater into my luggage.

The cinema ("kino") was located in the Kreuzberg section of Berlin, a hipster area which felt a lot like the Mission in San Francisco. It was nice to be at a proper cinema again. When the Kino opened, we learned that the screening had been written up in at least 3 major entertainment sections in town, and 40 tickets had already been pre-sold. Eiszeit Kino was a really cool place, and the manager Suzann did a wonderful job with PR: I highly recommend this venue to touring filmmakers!

So we waited and people started pouring in, including our Berlin promoter Dietmar, our amazing booking agent Ralf, and Johannes's Dad and sister. So may people showed up, in fact, that it became our first sold out screening (!) and Suzann decided to do a second screening at 11 PM that evening.

In the end, 99 people saw the movie that night and asked lots of questions, especially about the right wing band Retribution. (People here have been obsessed with them--we've gotten questions about them every night. I've been thinking a lot about why that is.) Our most esteemed audience member was Avi, an Israeli expat who sang for the band Mem-Nun back in the day. In J's zine, he interviews Federico from the band Dir Yassin, which was a great influence on the political bands in Israel today. In the interview, Federico names Mem-Nun as one of his great influences, so after the screening Avi said,"If Federico is the grandfather of the scene, I am the Neanderthal."

(The Jewish Museum in Berlin)

We of course didn't get to spend as much time in Berlin as I would have liked, but other highlights included our breakfast with Dietmar, who told us all kinds of crazy stories about his many years of promoting shows in Berlin, such as taking Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys to a local flea market where he dropped $500 on records. We also visited the incredibly well-designed Jewish Museum in Berlin, which was a strange and somewhat painful experience for me, despite its inspiring architecture. The subtitle of the museum is something like, "2,000 years of German-Jewish History" but it seemed a bit more to me like,"2,000 years of Jewish survival in Germany despite almost constant humiliation, discrimination, and murder." However, I could see how that name might not work out so well for the institution's public relations materials.

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