For those of us who think visually, an unusual place often summons up a vividly recalled film set. But rarely does someone go further and bring those memories to life. During the past three years, Holgar Kraus has taken that initiative. He is screening specially-selected films in Hamburg's unique and compelling spaces for his company "Flexibles Flimmern - Filme in Bewegung" (Flexible Flickering - Moving Pictures). By going to esoteric locations and deciding which films would feel right in those environments, he has created a loyal fan base of more than 5000 mobile cinema enthusiasts.
Kraus's love for film compelled him to push the fourth wall. But since he couldn't emulate Mia Farrow in Woody Allen's "Purple Rose of Cairo" and pull characters off the screen into real life, the 38-year-old former philosophy student has created real-world sets that allow viewers to feel that they have stepped into actual films.
Unlike the Purple Rose's premise, however, the films that Kraus has selected for his 60 screenings are not wish-fulfilment forays into happy fantasy. Kraus launched his roaming cinema with "Festen" (The Celebration), Thomas Viterberg's 1998 film of toxic family secrets within an affluent dynasty, at the now-demolished home of architect Werner Kallmorgen, Kallmorgen Villa. There, he says, "The villa's deserted rooms became the rooms from the movie and the banquet hall
served as a cinema auditorium in which the guests where seated at an elaborately set table."
Since that auspicious start, "Flexibles Flimmern - Filme in Bewegung" has screened the original Oceans Eleven at Hamburg's Esplanade Casino and The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the belltower of Saint Catherine's Church. The next screening, on September 9, will be of Robert Wiene's 1920 surrealist masterpiece, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," in a set especially designed for the occasion by artists Katrin Bethge and Robert Curvenhagen in the Brandshof Complex near the Elbbrücken.
Kraus's most recent one-night screening took place at Herr Max, the city's coolest bakery which specializes in heavenly tasting and devilishly themed cakes and goodies. With its roughly painted walls, wonky white paper-mache sculptures of multi-tiered cakes and head pastery chef Matthias Max's mastery of the skull and cross-bones motif popular with fans of the local FC St. Pauli soccer league, nicknamed the " The Pirates of the League," Herr Max is a treasure chest of sweets without an overly sugary atmosphere. Teasing out both the dainty and the dark elements of Herr Max's vibe, Kraus selected Tim Burton's "The Corpse Bride" as his screening selection. Max made appropriately ghoulish cakes, marzipan petite fours with adorable skull heads on top and hung a tattered bridal gown over the resister.
For Kraus, the evening's venue was a success. "I am very pleased at the response," he says. "It is a clear statement that guests appreciate not only consuming a movie but they are keen on sensitized movie experiences. And even better is that I can introduce places, messages and even political statements through a cultural event." And even add delicious customized creepy cakes.
--Ana Finel Honigman
(Images courtesy of Ana Finel Honigman)