October 9, 2013
“There is no grand concept behind ‘Mobile Kino’. I simply coordinate a community of Berliners with a common interest in cinema” says Joshua James Alas who had the idea of open air screenings at Berlin’s special places.
My story of how I ended up in Berlin is a bit of a cliché. A common story of arriving with grand plans only to be swept up in the city and the people and to kiss goodbye to your plans and not form new ones. The city takes hold of everyone and you only need to visit for a weekend to understand why.
Open air parties in Hasenheide, abandoned buildings being turned into party spaces or galleries, bars popping up left right and centre and people from all over the world here to enjoy it all together. I loved the energy and the idea that anyone can take part in this culture. I wanted to get involved and give something back while doing something for myself. It’s weird to say but I just wanted to be a part of it and not just being there to experience it.
My brother Joel had moved to Berlin a week before me and naturally went down the same road as most by planting his roots and calling Berlin home. Together we had an idea of how to give something back and get involved in the Berlin culture. The idea was formed and we jumped in by investing our last money buying a digital projector with plans to start our own open air film night. We set up our little open air screening in Lessinghöhe park in Neukoelln and invited everyone we knew in Berlin. Social circles grow fast in this city so the screenings were always busy. Everyone really enjoyed it so we continued it week after week. It was always the same people coming back but with new friends. Guests were invited to suggest films and help out by loaning equipment, or moving speakers or helping out in anyway they could. We termed the name ‘Mobile Kino’ as we were always moving from Görlitzer to Hasenheide to by Maybachufer canal and back again.
Our first screen was a large piece of white fabric that we bought from the Turkish markets. We stretched it between two poles that we stole (borrowed) from the city street construction site. When you tighten it all up with tent ropes and pegs you have a half decent movie screen. Our equipment got better as we went along and our second investment was buying speakers. Before this upgrade we would use a FM radio transmitter to play our movies. Friends would bring along bathroom radios, alarm clocks or radio apps on their phones. The signal would broadcast up to 100m so all you had to do was pick a spot in the park and tune yourself into the frequency. People would come early as we set up, musicians would play and people would grill while we would wait for the sun to set and the film to begin.
When the winter came we didn’t want to stop but had nowhere to go. We started looking into venues and found a huge space available in Kreuzberg. The space was empty in waiting for renovation to be turned into what is now the Betahaus co-working space. We had lined up a great event teaming up with activist duo The Yes Men. Their film was included in the Berlinale and we were asked to organise an official afterparty and a secret screening of their film. The event was a huge success that sparked the beginning of Mobile Kino as a company. Since then our little travelling cinema has grown into an official event company and has moved from many different Berlin venues from HBC and Betahaus, to Babylon, Urban Spree, Raum, Naherholung Sternchen and even the TV Tower.
There is no grand concept behind ‘Mobile Kino’. I simply coordinate a community of Berliners with a common interest in cinema. I travel around Berlin screening different films in different settings. I have always tried to keep it affordable with 4 euro tickets. Berliners are broke. I have lived here for many years and have been in the same situation. I understand that paying 7 or 8 euros is a lot of money that could be spent on beer or other important things. This summer has been great for ‘Mobile Kino’ with really busy screenings, plenty of great feedback with just under 2000 vistors.
I love what I do and I love doing it in Berlin.