With cinemas in Berlin closed for the foreseeable future a new initiative born out of lockdown is bringing the movie theatre to people's homes instead.

We miss the cinema. The smell of hot buttered popcorn, the first gulp of syrupy cola that passes through our salty lips and watching a larger-than-life story play out the big screen. Heck, we even miss our feet sticking to the stale-smelling, candy-stained carpet. But while we have to do without the full cinema experience for now, in Berlin residents are enjoying a taste of the real deal through Windowflicks, a film project that bring the joy of cinema to life in a Covid world.

Mother and her daughter watch the movie projected on the backyard firewall of a residential building
Mother and her daughter watch the movie projected on the backyard firewall of a residential building  in Berlin, Germany ©Maja Hitij/Getty Images

In response to restrictions imposed by social distancing several neighbourhoods across the city are inviting residents to cosy up on their balconies, in gardens, courtyards or by their windows to watch films projected on to firewalls of neighbouring buildings at the so-called facadekinos (facade cinema). Film programmes are provided by the arthouse cinema group Yorck and free popcorn is being distributed in some communities through local businesses like Knalle Popcorn.

Residents watch the movie "Loving Vincent" projected on the wall of a neighbouring building from their front garden in Berlin's Kreuzberg district
Residents watch the movie "Loving Vincent" projected on the wall of a neighbouring building from their front garden in Berlin's Kreuzberg district ©Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

"Our idea was to demonstrate that people do not need to take refuge on digital screens, they can open their windows and watch a movie with their neighbours," said Olaf Karkhoff, director of MetaGrey, a Berlin-based architecture firm supporting the Windowflicks project.

A couple and their pug watch a movie from the window of their apartment
Maria, her partner and their dog for a Windowflicks experience ©Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

To take part, movie-lovers need to email Windowflicks to express their interest and must live in an apartment block where at least 20 windows face a blank, wall. While most films are subtitled so as not to disturb those in the area who don't want to watch them, some have been aired with powerful sound systems once the full neighbourhood or apartment block is on board.

Staff members from Knalle Pop Corn prepare to hand out treats to residents watching the movie "Loving Vincent" on the wall of a neighbouring building
Staff members from Knalle Pop Corn prepare to hand out treats to residents in Kreuzberg ©Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Organisers are offering screenings for free, though donations are encouraged to help a crowdfunding campaign called Fortsetzung Folgt, which aims to raise money for struggling independent and arthouse cinemas. "The Berlin cinema landscape is one of the most diverse in the world, a program as colourful as the city. The existence of the Berlin program cinemas is threatened by the current creative break," Metagrey said in a statement. "We would like to contribute to securing the livelihood of Berlin's program cinemas and therefore support the campaign."

A family watch a movie projected on the wall of a neighbouring building from their balcony
The Zeibig family tune in from their balcony ©Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Italians are enjoying a similar experience with the social media campaign #CinemaDaCasa, which sees movies projected on to building facades in Rome every evening at 10pm; screening everything from classics to family films and feel-good favourites. In Paris, the closed La Clef cinema is projecting movies onto the wall of an adjacent apartment building, while in Lithuania an empty airport has been transformed into a drive-in theatre.

Residents gather in a courtyard to watch a movie projected  on the backyard firewall of residential building
Residents gather in a courtyard for Windowflicks ©Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images

Elsewhere in Cork, Ireland, one man has turned his residential street into an open-air cinema by projecting old films onto the side of his house so his neighbours can watch from their front gardens. The soundtrack is then broadcast to their radios.

Residents of an apartment in Wilhelmstraße watch a film
Residents of an apartment in Wilhelmstraße take part in the fun ©Jörg Carstensen/DPA/PictureAlliance/Getty Images

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