Berliners love their movies whether they are presented at the largest film festival of the year, Berlinale, or just a pleasant way to occupy a Sunday afternoon. But just like the city, venues range from posh to punk.
Overlapping with the list of historic cinemas in Berlin, there are many independent Kinos (cinemas) that would suit the most hipster of tastes. Even for the average plebeian, these theatres add a little something extra to the movie experience.
(Note that many of these theatres belong to the excellent Yorck Kinos cinema group. )
Address: Boxhagener Straße 107, 10245 Berlin (Friedrichshain)
Covered in oh-so-Berlin graffiti, this small cinema has an origin story that places its opening somewhere in the 1930s with a mid-section as a porno theatre. A massive neon sign directs theatre-goers to the entrance where a cozy ceramic furnace warms the space. It is grungy, in a friendly kind of way. This cinema shows some major films as well as things that are more off-beat, usually in original language with German subtitles.
Don't forget to stop at the cafe for Sunday brunch or grab a drink outside for first-rate people watching on the corner of Boxhagenerstrasse.
Address: Kurfürstendamm 225, 10719 Berlin (Charlottenburg)
This chic cinema on Kurfürstendamm provides luxury along with film. Fancy adjustable leather seats, plenty of leg room and a full service staff plying theatre-goers with finger foods and cocktails make for a true break from reality. This theatre mixes commercial films with a classic program of legendary films.
: Dresdenerstraße 126 10999 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Not to be confused with Babylon Mitte (below), this theatre has one of the best movie programs in the city. Beloved by anglophiles for its English program showing the latest films, it is tucked away in a little street off Kottbusser Tor.
Address: Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 30, 10178 Berlin-Mitte
This theatre is a well-known venue for lectures, readings and workshops as well as historic German films.
This site almost closed after a series of unfortunate incidents. In 1990, a carbon monoxide leak was discovered. In 1993, a war-damaged support beam was on the verge of collapse. The owners were ready to close the venue - but its fans stepped in. Supporters of Kino Babylon raised money to repair the building and in 2001 the theatre reopened.
Address: Kastanien Allee 77, 10435 Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg)
This miniscule cinema presents old-school glamor with gilded stucco and a piano in front of the screen. Elegantly retro from service to style, the one screen plays French New Wave classics to modern German gems. Most films are shown in their original language.
Address: Potsdamer Str. 2, Berlin (Mitte)
Located in the Film Museum on Potsdamer Platz, this is the least commercial cinema out of the three on this business-minded square. One of the movie theatres of Berlinale, its regular program runs series on a classic director. Among those featured are icons like John Ford or Ingmar Bergman.
Address: Rosenthaler Str. 40/41, 10178 Berlin (Mitte)
Located in touristy Hackescher Markt, you have to ascend the stairs to find this movie escape. When you find your way to its several small screens you will discover movies - both local and international - that are critically acclaimed with many documentaries in the program. Almost all of the movies are shown in their original language.
Address: Caligariplatz 1, 13086 Berlin (Weißensee)
Brotfabrik says exactly what it is - or was. A former bread factory, this small Kino shows German and international movies, offers a small art gallery, theatre and bar.
Address: Bötzowstraße 1-5, 10407 Berlin (Friedrichshain)
Nicknamed FaF by Berliners, this movie temple was built in 1924 in neoclassical style and is now a protected building. It provides large upholstered seats and a comfortable perch to watch its independent program in the largest art-house cinema in the city.
Address: Blissestraße 18, 10713 Berlin (Wilmersdorf)
Lit in bright neon, this cinema roots back to the 1920s. Cozy up to a date in this intimate setting and arrive early to claim one of the leather couchettes in the back for snuggling.
Address: Zeughofstraße 20, 10997 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
A squatters' cinema of the 80s, the entrance still looks more abandoned than the portal to a working theatre. An indie punk's dream, renovations are underway but will be careful not to strip it of its character.
Its colorful program features experimental and feature films as well as an extensive listing of shorts.
Address: Lehrter Straße 35, 10557 Berlin (Moabit)
Filmrauschpalast is like never leaving your living room. The cozy atmosphere is warmed by the heat of a coal fired oven and the projectionist addresses the audience before each screening.
Put your good manners on hold at the annual Schlechtival (bad film festival). Independent films are shown and the audience is encouraged to give an honest review. Clapping for approval and food thrown onstage showing disfavor. If you want to become part of the show, attend the karaoke nights.
Address: Hasenheide 54, 10967 Berlin - 3rd backyard, 5th floor.(Kreuzberg)
An arthouse-cinema has become a hidden Berlin haven for film lovers. Visitors must find the correct backyard and scale a 5 story staircase to watch this theatre's mix of international masterpieces and the latest German films. They also feature a series of events including readings, festivals and concerts. Their "open screening" is an uncensored forum for amateur film makers and professionals to show their work. Everything is up for discussion - even popcorn. The theatre is a "popcorn-free zone" with some staff in favor and others firmly against.
The theatre itself is an oddball attraction. Screen one has stone rows with two-person seats for couples. The 5th floor balcony provides a look out at the world around you with an urban view of Kreuzberg.
Address: Bölschestraße 69, 12587 Berlin (Friedrichshagen)
Opened in 1872 as a ballroom, Kino Union changed to a cinema in 1913 and is one of the last of its kind in Berlin. Nostalgic but new red upholstered seats provide the utmost in comfort and the theatre on the outskirts of Berlin has been included in well-known festivals like Berlinale.
Address: Bergstr. 2, 10115 Berlin (Mitte)
Z-Bar's Z-centric decor houses Z-inema. A red neon Z marks the spot where drinks are served and misfit videos find a home. Their program specializes in the bizarre side of the film world covering everything from B-movie horror films to 1950s sci-fi.
This is just one example of bars and small event spaces that offer a Kino feature. Look for programs at your favorite locations.