Film City Berlin: these locations feature in famous queer films!

Berlin is known worldwide as a film city, thanks to events like the Berlinale, the Teddy Award and the Porn Film Festival (incidentally, you can find more information on film festivals here!). Many famous queer films are set in Berlin or were shot here. Follow in the footsteps of actors and directors and visit famous locations on a short tour.

Friedrichstraße: "Westler"

The film Westler, by gay Director and long-standing Section Head (Panorama) of the Berlinale, Wieland Speck, begins with a tour of Hollywood. Felix (Sigurd Rachman) from West Berlin visits his US buddy Bruce. At the end of his trip, he looks at the sea of lights in Los Angeles with Bruce before they return together to West Berlin, where Felix plays host to Bruce. The camera accompanies the two on a daytrip to East Berlin together: the S-Bahn slowly enters Friedrichstraße station. This is the final stop and the border crossing. The two get off and go down the stairs to passport control. After they leave the station, the style of the film changes abruptly. Speck did not have permission to film in East Berlin and secretly filmed the scenes at the station and in East Berlin with a Super 8 camera. Westler becomes a silent film at this point. Felix and Bruce go on an exploratory tour of the city. Entirely without dialogue, Felix meets a young blond man during the day. The two exchange meaningful glances until Felix finally summons up his courage at Alexanderplatz, near the world time clock, and speaks to him. His name is Thomas (Rainer Strecker), and he lives in East Berlin. A love affair begins between the two and Felix now routinely travels to East Berlin to visit Thomas. Again and again, the Friedrichstraße S-Bahn station itself plays a central role. The passport control officers become increasingly suspicious of Felix's numerous border crossings. The Friedrichstraße S-Bahn station, whose border crossing point was also called the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears) because of the many farewells that took place here, as it was the central and also the only crossing point for all nationalities into East Berlin from 1961 to 1990. During its existence, about 200 people died there, mostly of heart attacks due to the stress of the border crossing. Today, the Tränenpalast houses a fascinating and informative museum.

Movie: „Westler“
Director: Wieland Speck (D, 1985)
Trailer "Westler"

Location: Friedrichstraße, Berlin-Mitte
S-Bahn Station + Metro Station Friedrichstraße

Hackescher Markt: "Coming Out"

The Wall was still standing when Heiner Carow made his DEFA film Coming Out. This goes down in history as the first gay film in the GDR. It was also to remain the only one, as the Wall fell on the day of its premiere. Coming Out tells the story of teacher Philip (Matthias Freihof), who falls in love with his colleague Tanja (Dagmar Manzel) at school. However, the newfound happiness comes to a standstill when Tanja invites a friend over. Unbeknownst to her, this friend is one of Philip’s former lovers. Desperate and driven by memories of the past, Philip goes to a gay bar where he meets up with Matthias (Dirk Kummer). The two fall in love and Philip gets drawn further and further into conflict - especially being a gay teacher in the late 1980s. The film was daring not only for that reason. In the GDR, the existence of neo-Nazis had always been stringently denied. Philipp witnesses a black man being beaten up by Nazis in the S-Bahn one evening. He intervenes and becomes a target himself and goes home slightly injured. The station where he gets off is the former Marx-Engels-Platz, which was renamed Hackescher Markt in 1992. Philipp rides his bike along what is now the corner of Münzstraße/Neue Schönhauser Straße. Today there are clothes shops, cafés, and many overpriced tourist attractions. At the end of the 1980s, the area was still unglamorous, but no less charming. Nearby, it is worth visiting the Kino International. The premiere of Coming Out took place there on 9 November 1989. To mark the anniversary of the fall of the Wall, the film was screened here, with some of those involved in attendance. The beautiful GDR premiere cinema is always worth a visit. On Mondays there is always a queer film on offer here, as part of the MonGay film series.

Movie: „Coming Out"
Direction: Heiner Carow (D, 1989)
Trailer "Coming Out"

Location: Hackescher Markt, Berlin-Mitte
S-Bahn Station Hackescher Markt

Siegessäule: "Lola und Bilidikid"

The Siegessäule, the Victory Column (here we mean the monument, not the magazine named after it), is a landmark of sorts for Berlin's queer community. Not surprisingly, the film Lola und Bilidikid by Kutlug Ataman features the Goldelse (the golden angel on top of the column). It is depicted hovering over Murat (Baki Davrak) like a guardian angel in the opening scene when he goes to Tiergarten Park, which served then, as now, as a rallying point for gay men. Murat is 17, gay, and Turkish. His older brother is very eager to make a ‘real man’ out of his younger brother. The two of them live with their mother in Kreuzberg in the late 1990s. A queer Turkish subculture emerged in this neighbourhood at that time, which is now reflected in parties like Gayhane in SO36. In Lola und Bilidikid, the queer goings-on of Kreuzberg's Turkish residents take place even more covertly. One of the nightlife characters is Lola (Gandi Mukli), a drag artist who routinely performs on small stages with two friends. Lola is in a relationship with Bilidikid (Erdal Yildiz), who has clearly modelled his appearance on James Dean. Billy, as those around him call him, is the epitome of toxic masculinity. He urges Lola to undergo gender reassignment surgery so they can finally live together like a ‘real’ couple. However, unlike one of her friends, Lola is not trans*. The film also deals with the xenophobia of the Germans towards the Turkish community and offers compassionate alternatives and a lot of humour in an exciting, sad and heart-warming way. Fittingly, Ataman featires the Sieggesäule again shortly before the end credits, this time during the day, as if to imply that it will always be there. The 67-metre-high Victory Column can be climbed (via its staircase) and offers a sensational view of the city from the viewing platform beneath the towering Angel.

Movie: „Lola und Bilidikid“
Direction: Kutlug Ataman (D, 1999)
Trailer „Lola und Bilidikid“

Location: Siegessäule, Berlin-Tiergarten
S-Bahn Station Bellevue

Badeschiff: "Drei"

In 2015, Sebastian Schipper directed the thriller Victoria, which is set in Berlin's nightlife. A few years earlier, he himself was in front of the camera for Tom Tykwer and his love triangle drama Drei (Three). In it he plays Simon, who has been with his partner Hanna (Sophie Rois) for 20 years. The two become increasingly bored by their relationship. Then Hanna begins an affair with Adam (Devid Striesow), whom she meets at work. While Hanna enjoys her new crush, Simon has to endure a lot of stress, including testicular cancer. One evening he visits the sauna on the Badeschiff on the river Spree, where he meets Adam, unaware of Adam's affair with his girlfriend. The two men become close and have sex in the changing room. Thus begins an exciting love triangle. The Badeschiff is located at the Arena in Berlin-Treptow. It is a freshwater pool that floats on the river. On land, one can hang out on the sandy beach or sunbathe on the jetty that connects the shore with the boat. The Winterbadeschiff, which turns the pool experience into a sauna, has unfortunately not been open in recent years. However, the venue is always worth a visit in summer.

Movie: „Drei“
Director: Tom Tykwer (D, 2010)
Trailer "Drei"

Location: Badeschiff
Eichenstraße 4, 12435 Berlin-Treptow
Metro Station Schlesisches Tor
Webseite Badeschiff

Kottbusser Tor: "Kokon"

There are scenes that you can tangibly smell while watching. Director Leonie Krippendorf's Kokon (Cocoon) (2020) has a lot of these moments. The film is set in the summer of 2018, one of the hottest in recent years. Nora (Lena Urzendowsky) is 14 years old and hangs out a lot with her older sister Jule (Lena Klenke) and her best friend Aylin (Elina Vildanova). Nora and Jule live with their single mother right on Kottbusser Tor (Kotti). One night the two are hungry as their mother, who spends most of her time in a bar on the Kotti, has left them neither money nor food in the flat. The two of them walk across the busy square in their pyjamas, where kebab joints stand shoulder to shoulder with bars and Spätis. Anyone who has ever walked through Kotti on a summer evening can almost literally recreate this scene. The entire film takes place in the area around Kotti. Nora spends the hot days with her sister and her sister's friends at the Prinzenbad, the outdoor swimming pool. There she becomes aware of Romy (Jella Haase), an older classmate who takes life very casually. Kokon shadows Nora during her coming out. She falls in love with Romy and the two spend a lot of time on the streets of Kreuzberg. A highlight of the film shows the two of them letting their hair down at CSD. Kotti is the silent protagonist of the film, whose portrayal is reminiscent of that in the 2007 film Prinzessinnenbad, which introduced the iconic phrase "Ich komm' aus Kreuzberg, du Muschi!" (I come from Kreuzberg, you pussy!) into the lexicon of Millennials. This also describes the vibe of Kokon, whose characters are virtually intertwined with their Kreuzberg surroundings.

Movie: „Kokon“
Director: Leonie Krippendorf (D, 2020)
Trailer "Kokon"

Location: Kottbusser Tor, Berlin-Kreuzberg
Metro Station Kottbusser Tor

Further informations

Subscribe to Place2be.Berlin's Instagram channel for the latest info and impressions from Berlin!

The Place2be.Berlin city map shows you interesting queer locations all over Berlin.

You can find a complete overview of all events for every single da on the event pages of SIEGESSÄULE, Berlin's famous queer city magazine.

Texts: Julian Beyer

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