Berl-in. Berlin in February is grey. Cold. Wet. Four days of continuous rain. If you think I should be used to that from Ireland then you are wrong. In Ireland, rain is seldom continuous. It lets up. It may rain every day. But only intermittently. Not so in Berlin. Rain. Rain. And more rain. But Berlin is nonetheless exciting. Even in February. There is always something to do or see. The last few days I was in Berlin for my annual reunion with my two friends K___ and D___ with whom I used to have a little cinema club when we were still working together in a large, international internet company. Only fitting that we would convene in Berlin, where D___ lives, while the Berlinale was on.
As always, my trusty travel companion Pop!Thorin accompanied me. He insisted I make a little gallery of images for you –
and sneaked in himself although I did not take many pictures. The weather was not suitable for a precious camera…
The weather, however, did not keep me from meeting up with a new fandom friend. Lovely MatildRAs and I connected via Twitter and decided to check each other out ;-). MatildRAs is familiar with Berlin and whisked me off on a tour of Berlin
Station, punctuated by spots that looked strangely familiar and which I hope we get to see more of later this year…
If you are interested, follow us on a short tour of some locations/sights that have popped up in recent tweets by RA and assorted other Berlin Station cast and crew.
We started off at the Bikini Haus (right), a complex of buildings in the centre of West-Berlin, built in the 1950s. I remember it as a rather run-down eyesore from a few years back, but it has now been gentrified into a rather fancy shopping complex with designer shops. The Berlin Zoo is to the left of this picture.
Next we moved on towards Alexanderplatz. Close by is the Pressehaus where the Berliner Zeitung has its base and where some scenes of Berlin Station were filmed in December 2015. (click images for larger view)
A few stops on the S-Bahn took us to the banks of the river Spree. It’s unclear whether Richard was filming or sightseeing there last year, but he posted a (now apparently controversial – and deleted) picture with the caption “I ❤ 🇩🇪”. The graffiti is still there – and it turns out RA had been very careful with his original crop… There is “worse” written on the building than the
rather harmless word for a body part… (If you insist on seeing it bigger, right-click the image and open in a new window for a larger view)
If you follow the river on the side of the buildings, you will come past the “East Side Gallery”. It consists of original slabs of the wall that once divided Berlin. They now are a sort of 1 kilometre long open-air gallery with murals by international artists – some are iconic at this point (see Thorin in the gallery above). You may find this mural familiar:
You may remember the mural from a tweet pic posted by Richard last year. My picture gives you the context of the original – it is part of the East Side Gallery, whereas Richard’s image showed a (cropped) reproduction of the mural that stood in the courtyard of a building (i.e. his picture was not taken here at the wall).
Continuing along the East Side Gallery you eventually reach Warschauer Straße (from where RA’s co-star Michelle Forbes had posted a picture across the maze of railway tracks). This leads over into Friedrichshain, Berlin’s party central, a colourful district with lots of bars, pubs, clubs and squats. We passed by Cassiopeia, a club in a disused industrial building along the river. Looks pretty much like a cool location for some edgy scenes with decadent, gritty hipsters… (I imagine Daniel Miller sporting his tighty denims and pushing through the sweating crowds, furtively scanning the hedonistic throng for an asset.
Or maybe I am imagining Daniel Miller’s assets in a sweaty hedonistic thong, ehhhhh… a thRong, throng, THRONG!!!!)
After an extended lunch-session in Simon-Dach-Straße it was nearly time to part, but on the way to the nearest S-Bahn we passed by another location that some extras and/or residents had posted on Twitter last year.
I was intrigued by the wooden slats attached around the windows of the first floor flat, wondering whether they had been used for attaching “flags” to block out the outside view, but looking at the old tweets it appears as if they were filming on the floor above that. Otherwise my guess would have been that they are returning to the location for another shoot – a safe house for Daniel Miller’s “assets”, ahem…? Perhaps not.
In any case, the walk around Berlin on the trails of Berlin Station was great fun. MatildRAs took me to places I had not seen, and she was a wealth of information. And no offence to Mr A or the production he is currently involved in – but the highlight was definitely spending time with a new fandom friend who was chatty and open and friendly, a joy to meet up and hang out with. We had a lot of fun talking about a lot of things – which didn’t necessarily include Mr A. And MatildRAs is the latest in a line of fan meet-ups that confirm that we have a fandom made up of interesting people who enjoy expanding their horizons and meeting others. Mr A may be the (inadvertent) instigator of friendships, but we take it from there – despite occasional sh*tstorms and other assorted climate changes in our virtual crockery. The fun may start with him – but what we make of it, is up to ourselves. Berl-out.
PS: My little cinema club and I did not get into any Berlinale films but we kept the moving image theme by visiting a video installation in Hamburger Bahnhof. The multi-screen film installation entitled Manifesto stars Cate Blanchett in 13 different roles, reciting a number of (predominantly) art manifestos ranging from Karl Marx to Andre Breton, Kasimir Malevich, Claes Oldenburg and Jim Jarmusch. Installed in a large blacked-out room, the installation plays over 13 screens simultaneously. The audience is free to wander between the screens and watch at their leisure. Blanchett is stunning in the broad variety of roles, ranging from factory worker to school teacher, news anchor, choreographer diva to homeless man (!). She’s not afraid to look less than attractive, and she delivers the different speeches spot-on as demanded by the context she has been put in. Each of the 13 films is about 10 minutes long and starts with wordless but stunningly aesthetic introductions into the context. I really hope Richard checks out the work of his colleague – it’s well worth seeing even if the individual manifestos (the words) get somewhat buried under the imagery. The mixture of intellectual investigation of art and cinematic contextualisation should be right up his street, though. German readers can look forward to a linear screening of Manifesto in 2018 via Bayerischer Rundfunk which co-commissioned the piece. More HERE.