Berlin Documentary Club shows the films that otherwise are hidden

IndieBerlin Press Photo Berlin Documentary Club

In Ladenkino in Friedrichshain The Berlin Documentary Film Club screens the documentary films that nobody else shows. In a true independent cinema with a great atmosphere for films and socializing, the Documentary Film Club give the people in Berlin a chance to see the world from a documentary angle. The tickets are only 5 € for a screening and everybody is invited. 

Cecilie Bolvinkel and Lorand Balazs are the founders of Berlin Film Documentary Club. They both work professionally with documentary films and are big documentary film enthusiasts as well. They wanted to show people some of the many great documentary films, which is difficult to find on your own. Indieberlin talked with Cecilie Bolvinkel, to hear why she started the film club, which trends she sees in documentary films right now and what is happening in the film club right now.

indieBerlin: What is special about the Berlin Documentary Film Club?

Cecilie Bolvinkel: What’s unique about the Berlin Documentary Film Club is that we focus on screening documentaries that are not otherwise available in Berlin cinemas and when possible we organize something extra around the screening. Last month when we screened the Romanian doc Toto and His Sisters about 3 siblings living alone in Bucharest we for example had a Q&A afterwards with Romanian journalist Silviu Mihai explaining the context and situation in the country.

indieBerlin: How and why was the film club founded?

Cecilie Bolvinkel: The idea for the club initially came from my doc club partner Lorand Balazs Imre. We both work with documentaries and know each other from the industry. One day in June this year we randomly met on the street in Kreuzberg and Lorand asked me if we should set up a documentary event in Berlin. Since my heart truly beats for docs I immediately said yes, and then we started working and launched the club in September.

The motivation for setting up the club is that we felt a regular doc event was missing in Berlin. Of course a lot of great docs are screened in the cinemas here in Berlin, but we could not find any regular screening event, where you e.g. each month could go and see a great film, enjoy and discuss it. Furthermore there are so many fantastic documentaries out there that never make it to the big screen. Making a theatrical release is both costly and time consuming, so with our one off screenings we have created a platform for some of these docs.

Laugh, cry, think and react

indieBerlin: How do you choose which films you show on the screenings?

Cecilie Bolvinkel: Since both Lorand and I work in the business we have a big network and see a lot of documentaries at festivals and markets, and now we are also in the great situation that people have started sending us their films for consideration for a club screening.

First of all the film should not be available elsewhere in Berlin cinemas. We make “one and only time in Berlin” screenings. Secondly it has to be a great film! That sounds very vague, but that is how it is and luckily Lorand and I have pretty much the same taste in films. We really want to build a quality brand around the club. It has to be a place where you know you can go every month and be served a fantastic doc experience. As we normally say – we want to make you laugh, cry, think and react!

Besides the mentioned Toto and his Sisters we have so far screened the award winning films Pervert Park and Martha & Niki.

indieBerlin: How many people attend the film screenings and how often do make them?

Cecilie Bolvinkel: Since we are still in the early days of the club – we have only had 3 screenings so far – we are still building the brand and spreading the word, but we have very big ambitions for 2017 and are right now settling the program for January – April.

We have regular screenings once a month. Normally the second Tuesday of each month. We furthermore plan to do some extra screenings throughout 2017 around special events.

A great possibility for any documentary-enthusiast

indieBerlin: Do you have a community around documentary films?

Cecilie Bolvinkel: Since we both work full-time in the film industry we have a good network here in Berlin in the doc community, so the club screenings are also a great possibility for any doc enthusiast to come by, watch a film and discuss it afterwards with like minded and colleagues.

indieBerlin: In december you show the film Presenting Princess Shaw – what is the film about and why have you choose this film?

Cecilie Bolvinkel: For December we wanted to show a real feelgood documentary with lots of nice music. A film that will bring the audience in a good mood. Presenting Princess Shaw is a real life fairy tale that follows the aspiring New Orleans singer Princess Shaw as she posts her songs on YouTube and waits to be discovered. On the other side we have Israeli composer Kutiman who is surfing the internet and looking for talents for his new album. Last time he released a THRU YOU album on Youtube it got more than two million clicks in two weeks. In the film he finds his new star and we follow how Princess Shaw goes from unknown free time singer to internet sensation.

A quite hip genre

indieBerlin: In you perspective, do you see any trends right now in documentary films?

Cecilie Bolvinkel: In general documentaries are experiencing a high in popularity. Documentaries are quite hip now and not only seen as boring sad films where you will maybe learn something new but never be entertained. That is not how it is. With documentaries you will be entertained and moved and as a bonus also learn something new!

The danger with the documentary hype is that it is still mainly within a certain circle and docs should be for everyone. That is also why that with this club we not only aim at a doc aficionado audience, but with each film we reach out to specific target groups that could have a pre-interest in the subject and that in that way lure them into the cinema.

The December screening is on 13/12. Here The Berlin Documentary Film Club shows the documentary ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’ by Kutimann. Read more about the event here.

Watch the trailer for the ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’

Words by: Elisabeth Thostrup

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