#246: Rail strike, farmers in town, mayor's romance, digital survey
Berlin's oldest Kino saved!
Dear 20 Percent,
Call me a nostalgic, but one of the things I love about Berlin is the large number of independent cinemas where, on any day of the week, you can watch arthouse flicks from around the world, indie documentaries or small festivals showing films you’d never catch in a multiplex.
This scene is constantly under threat from streaming, gentrification, rising rents etc. But now there’s a glimmer of hope: Kreuzberg’s Moviemento, apparently Germany’s oldest cinema, has been saved from the whims of real estate juggernaut Deutsche Wohnen, which bought the building in 2019. The firm wanted to sell the cinema space, which prompted Iris Praefke und Wulf Sörgel, the duo that run Moviemento, to launch a crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to their passionate fan base, they were able to raise €130,000 — a lot of money, but not nearly enough to cover the asking price of €1.8m.
Then, something unexpected happened: A few days ago Praefke and Sörgel announced a deal had been reached with Deutsche Wohnen. No numbers mentioned. The cinema, which dates back to 1907, is now theirs!
As the property market continues to gnaw away at what makes Berlin special, let’s take this story to heart: Berliners can save the things they love if enough people care and take action.
More news below!
Hit the button below, become a paying subscriber and help 20% Berlin survive the next century or so.
Protesting farmers descended upon central Berlin late Sunday and remained throughout Monday as part of nationwide action. Hundreds of tractors blocked Straße des 17. Juni near the Brandenburg Gate. It’s not just the farmers: craftspeople are also pissed off at the government about inflation and other issues — and joined the Monay protests. Farmers also blocked dozens of autobahn ramps throughout the region. Some Berlin supermarkets could see empty shelves today because protests blocked a large wholesale warehouse in Brandenburg. They’re outraged about Chancellor Scholz’s “traffic light” government’s plans to cut subsidies for agricultural diesel fuel and tax breaks on farming equipment. The government has already rolled back some of the cuts but the protests will continue all week across Germany — with an ongoing farmers’ “vigil” in Tiergarten and another large demo planned for January 15. DW has a good piece in English about the situation — it’s more complicated than just anger about a single issue.
The rail strike
Deutsche Bahn train drivers will be striking from 2am Wednesday through 6pm Friday. The GDL union is demanding higher wages and shorter working hours. Not only is virtually all regional and long-distance rail service cancelled, the Berlin S-Bahn will see “massive disruptions”, with 20% emergency service at best. The BVG is not affected by the strike. For those of you heading to the airport: most DB FEX and RE trains and most S-Bahns will be out-of-service. There is hope: The privately run RE8N line, which operates hourly between the airport and the Hauptbahnhof via Alexanderplatz (an ABC ticket is valid), is not affected. Another option could be the X7 and X71 bus lines that operate between the Rudow U-Bahn station (U7) and the airport. Allow plenty of time to get to the airport. Buses will surely be packed.
Yes, we’re a couple
Mayor Kai Wegner and city education chief Katharina Günther-Wünsch (both CDU) stepped up to the mic and said, “yes we’re a thing.” Actually, their lawyer told a news agency, which is slightly less glamorous. Rumours have been circulating since the Christmas break when Wegner said he was separating from his long-time partner. In his statement their lawyer said: “Irrespective of the fact that such a constellation does not contradict any legal provisions, it goes without saying that the parties involved must strictly separate private and professional matters in connection with their official duties.” Opposition politicians have expressed concerns about the relationship. And the head of Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International, Anna-Maija Mertens, told Tagesspiegel: “It is important to consider very carefully what specific precautions can be taken to prevent conflicts of interest as far as possible,” and pointed out that compliance rules would forbid such a relationship in a private company.
Our friends from the event and culture newsletter The Next Day Berlin are back from their winter break. Some tips for the coming days:
Opening on Thursday 11.01, 5 pm - 11: 59 pm. Until 01.02. P61 Gallery, Potsdamer Str. 61. Tickets: €12/15.
As enthusiasts of transhumanism and the intersection of AI and art, we are curious about this new exhibition. What are they saying about it? “Various artists, distinct sections introducing themes. One overarching message. Among other things, topics include AI art, 3D art, audio-visual art like frequencies, future-tech innovations such as hologram devices, and our self-designed Mind Machine.”
Concert: Badecima: Deli Playa
Friday, 12.01, 8 pm. Volksbühne, Grüner Salon, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Tickets: €15.
Escape the Berlin winter and embrace the beach vibes of the Latin summer with the dream-psychedelic pop band Badecima. They promise to transport the audience into their 🎧 Deli Playa's world in an intimate concert at Volksbühne this Friday.
…save this date:
Listening Experience The Gyuto Monks Tibetan Tantric Choir
Sunday, 21.01, from 2 pm. Reethaus - Flussbad, Köpenicker Chaussee 3a, Lichtenberg. Free admission with pre-registration.
Get ready for some contemplative listening: In 1985, Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead recorded the Gyuto Monks Tantric Choir's sacred rituals in California. Overdubbing their voices, he recreated the massive sound of a 100-voice choir. At Reethaus, the spatial sound system unveils rhythmic chants and ambient sounds, accentuating their ritual movements’ physical and spiritual impact.
For more events, sign up at The Next Day Berlin.
While the Berlin administration still struggles to run a database, the private economy seems more on top of things when it comes to digitalisation. A third of Berlin companies employed AI last year, according to a survey by the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce, reports Tagesspiegel (paywall). Around 80% used cloud storage. A third say they used Internet of Things (IoT) tech, but just 5% said the blockchain was relevant to their business. Around 10% of firms surveyed say they suffered a cyber-attack.
Hey, Berlin businesspeople — why not advertise your products and services to thousands of Berliners by sponsoring this fine newsletter?