Sunday, April 09, 2006

04.07.06 Germany: Hamburg

I've been thinking about doing a documentary on indepenent cinemas and the crazy characters who run them, and Carsten from the Lichtmess Kino in Hamburg is a fantastic candidate. An experimental filmmaker himself who collects projections of color-check girls from the leaders of 35mm prints, Carsten is hte former bassist of a hugely popular, older German punk band whose name translates roughly to "Flowers at the ass of hell." When his spiky, blonde-tipped head greeted us with raspy and abundant laughter, we knew we were in for a good night.

Carsten works full time in a mainstream cinema and is part of a small group who rents and promotes the Lichtmess Kino every Thursday for independent film sreenings. The Kino itself is a really interesting space, inside an old soap factory and plastered with beautiful old movie posters from floor to extra tall ceilings.

(Some of our crowd at the Lichtmess Kino)

We had another sold out screening! Well over 100 were inside--leaving stnading room only--and more were turned away at the door. I was already getting a bit nervous due to the size of the crowd, and my anxiety heightened when people in the back started chatting and snickering during J's lecture. To make matteres worse, the speech was running a bit long, and I was expecting a call from the US (an interview from Venus Magazine-yay!) on the phone that was located in J's pocket! By the time the screening ended, I was a nervous wreck, and it didn't help that, though most of the crowd (at least 100), stayed for the post-film discussion, they were absolutely silent. A sea of expectant faces, but not a question among them! Fortunately, J and I have our schtick down by now and we were able to warm them up some.

It was an appropriate night to have my first stiff drink of the tour (J has been giving me a pactical tutorial on the wonders of German non-alcoholic beers). Before heading home, we went to the bar that also resided inside the soap-factory complex, and Carsten treated me to a shot of Malteeser (sp?)--a local specialty liquor made from caraway seeds that tasted vaguely like a liquid dinner roll.

Harald, our host and promoter, took us on a midnight stroll home via Hamburg's port, one of the largest in Europe. I always like port towns best because of the energy and vitality that comes from exposure to new things, and Hamburg was no exception. J and I got a chance to do some exploring in the morning, and I really loved the feel of the city--lots of cool-looking people, diversity, independent business and a friendly vibe. It was the first city so far that I could see myself actually living in.

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