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Movies and Cinemas in Berlin

As befits the home of the Berlinale, there's no shortage of cinemas in Berlin - showing everything from the latest blockbuster right through to obscure Basque-Finnish experimental docu-dramas. (OK, we made that last one up, but you get the picture).

Unfortunately most Germans like to see their foreign films dubbed and without subtitles - and even if you understand German, it's not the same experience. Fortunately there are a number of movie theaters throughout Berlin which show movies in English (or the film's original language).

Cinemas / Movie Theaters

See our page Cinemas / Movie Theaters for a list of venues showing films in English.

Listings

Berlin cinemas update their schedules every Thursday, so new listings usually printed become available from Tuesday or Wednesday for the following seven days.

The best weekly listing overviews are provided by the two main city magazines, Tip and Zitty. These are published at alternating two-weekly intervals however, so only the listings for the first week are reliable. Both magazines are available on Tuesdays on the street and Wednesdays in shops and bookstores. There's also a free listings magazine, [030], which also has movie listings, although as it's also a bi-weekly magazine the listings are only useful for the first week after publication.

Daily newspapers such as the Berliner Zeitung,Tagesspiegel and Morgenpost carry movie listings for the next seven days in their Thursday editions, although these are not as easy to use.

Online listings

Here are some links to online movie listings for Berlin (all in German only, but easy enough to navigate):

When using listings (both printed and on-line) to find a movie, it's easy to see which ones won't be in German - check for the following notations:

  • OV or OF (Originalversion / Originalfassung), i.e. the movie in its original version with no dubbing / subtitles
  • OmU (Original mit Untertiteln) - original version with subtitles (in German)
  • OmE / OmenglU (Original mit englischen Untertiteln) - original version with subtitles in English
Note:
  1. not all listings give the movie's original title (and as German film distributors have the quaint habit of giving the German version a very different sounding name), so it can be tricky to find the film you're looking for.
  2. "Original" refers to the film's original language version, which is usually English, but which could also be Finnish or Uzbek.

Cinema Culture

Berlin was once Germany's Hollywood, the capital of German cinema, home to the nation's biggest movie company, the UFA, and stars such as Marlene Dietrich. The golden age of German and Berlin cinema was the interwar period, although following 1933 the Nazis gained a stranglehold over the industry and converted it in steps to a propaganda instrument. The Second World War pretty much killed off Berlin's film industry. The UFA fled to western Germany, and its interests in the GDR were taken over by the state-owned DEFA, which continued to operate out of the Babelsberg Studios - albeit with little international success.

Following Berlin's reunification, the multiplexes came to town: purpose-built, multiscreen movie theaters sprung up in all the major centers. They filled a huge gap in the market, especially on the eastern side of the city, bringing mainstream cinema to more Berliners than ever before, vut at a price: the traditional cinemas, especially those along the Ku'damm were unable to compete and the turn of the century saw the great "Kinosterben" (film theatre die-off). Now the market is mainly divided up between the big multiplexes and smaller local / art-house cinemas. Nevertheless there's a huge choice of venues, and something for every taste.