When someone goes to the cinema in the cinema, it goes to a film that everyone knows.

The people in the film watch “High Noon” or something by Fellini, they talk about Godard or Mafia films, that in turn depends on the genre of the film.

In the settings you can see them in normal cinemas, the protagonists standing in front of neon advertising, eating popcorn.

The only difference is that the films that heroes see in films can never be seen in normal cinemas.

Or almost never.

Eva-Maria Magel

Head of culture editor Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

  • Follow I follow

To watch Godard, Fellini, Pasolini, Billy Wilder or Fritz Lang, to study film history or to satisfy special interests, you have to go to a so-called non-commercial cinema. Today there is a fair amount of it, also in Hesse, from the K in Eschborn to the Filmforum Höchst and the Caligari Wiesbaden to the municipal cinema in Weiterstadt. The mother of the Hessian communal cinemas can now look back on half a century: The communal cinema Frankfurt, today the cinema in the German Film Institute and Film Museum (DFF), opened on December 3rd, 1971.

The party has to be canceled this time due to Corona, and the Federal Association of Municipal Cinemas, which should have met for the anniversary, canceled its congress and film series except for one evening. But an anniversary film program that begins on December 3 at the DFF will, over the next few months, pick up the red threads that have been rolled out over the past five decades. It thus ties in with the strategy with which the first program of the Frankfurt Municipal Cinema was presented, initially in the Theater am Turm, then from 1972 on in the Historisches Museum: With the work by Buster Keaton (1895 - 1966) it began its work in a retrospective and then milled its way through the buried part of cinema history that was almost never seen in commercial cinemas: Luis Buñuel's early films,Luchino Visconti's “Ossessione”, Charles Chaplin's “The Kid”.

The declared aim was to raise awareness of film as an art form. The aim was to show films in contexts that could be historical, thematic or stylistic, presented the work of a director or contributed to current discussions. The communal cinema later became a haven for New German Cinema. 20 years ago Hilmar Hoffmann (1925-2018), from 1970 to 1990 head of the city's cultural department, justified this in the FAZ as follows: “It was about creating venues for the young German film. The commercial cinemas refused. We needed at least 100 municipal cinemas because a film was only of interest to the distributors if it came to the theater with at least 100 copies.

Start-up boom after the "Frankfurt judgment"

Even if it was seen quite differently in 1971.

The cinema operators far beyond the city were not at all pleased.

There has even been a lawsuit by five Frankfurt cinema owners against the “community cinema”.

That gave Frankfurt's municipal cinema something special because, as is often claimed, it wasn't the first one after the war.

Essen, Duisburg and Mannheim, for example, were faster.

But the complaint of the cinema operators because of unfair competition led to a “Frankfurt judgment” in 1972, which resulted in a boom in the establishment of what would later become 150 municipal cinemas in Germany.