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Historisches Stummfilmkino Delphi
Historisches Stummfilmkino Delphi © tic / Friedel Kantaut

Film history in Pankow

Most people consider Paris the birthplace of the film.However, at the same time as the French, the way was paved also for the creation of the modern cinemain the former Berliner working-class district of Prenzlauer Berg.
In 1892 the photographer Max Skladanowsky produced the first moving pictures of his brother Emil using a hand crank camera box on the roof of the house in the Schönhauser Allee 146 / corner Kastanienallee. Curious pedestrians find today in this historic place a strip of the film made up of paving stones with the names of the Berlin Film pioneers. Already in1895,the Skladanowsky brothers presentedthe worldwide first 15-minute film with the bioscope before a paying audience in the Varieté Wintergarten.

The still poor quarter was anexperimental place for filming and underwent a social and architectural changein the course of a century that is documented in films in addition to the actual themes. Filmmakers regard the district as the most authentic scene to bring life in Berlin closer to the public audience.The old buildings were relatively spared by the war, peeling facades and hidden courtyards had personality and were considered most of all by the DEFA directors as a high-contrast counterpart to the characterless prefabricated buildings of the GDR.The way of life of the film heroes living heregivesseveral generations the impression to be very typical of the conditions of youth in the metropolis of their time.
More elaborate productions could be produced in the larger Lixie Film Studio in the city district of Weißensee in the Franz-Josef-Straße 9-12.The expressionist film genre, which startedflourishing in the 1920s, had its roots in the1919 production of the silent film classic “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” by Robert Wiene.Today the Caligari square recalls the importance of this historical place.

As the exemplary cornerstone of Pankow film historywere three outstanding works describing and documentingthe changes in the East Berlin scenery,these were filmed with an interval of about 25 years: “Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser” (1957), “Solo Sunny” (1980) and “Sommer vorm Balkon” (2006).

TIP: Prenzlauerberginale, the film festival for urban history and culture

The annual Prenzlauerberginale gives the neighborhood a place on the big screen. In various categories, the film festival focuses on the popular district, whose image has changed drastically over the years. The Prenzlauerberginale is a neighborhood film festival with rare feature films, documentaries, DEFA archive films, reports and music.

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