Berlin and Beyond: The Drive-In Experience at Fort Mason

Berlin and Beyond large screen for the drive-in experience at Fort Mason in San Francisco. @Lupitanews, 2021.

This article is about my simple observations during two recent visits to Fort Mason, for the drive-in film experience presented by the Berlin and Beyond Film Festival.

Based in San Francisco, the festival is happening May 25 through May 30, 2021.

As it reaches its 25th anniversary this year, the festival is doing a great job adapting to the current situation. in the dawn of San Francisco’s full reopening after the pandemic, Berlin and Beyond in partnership with Fort Mason granted in-person attendance for two films this week.

The drive-in experience allowed film goers to comfortably be in their cars watching “Sisters Apart,” on Tuesday, and “Nowhere in Africa,” on Wednesday, while being socially distanced. Masks were required when or if people needed to get out of their cars. 

Interesting enough, some people didn’t know what to do (lol). Seriously, it felt like a new experience. After all, going to drive-in movies has not been popular since the 1960s.

Thankfully, festival volunteers directed us where to park. We were instructed to reach Fort Mason’s 95.5 FM in the car or through a small radio they provided. 

Before the movies, Berlin and Beyond showed interviews with directors and actors live from Germany. Once the movie began, the scenes in the very large screen took all of our attention. 

The first night, I forgot to bring a blanket. The second night, I made sure to bring one and also to get popcorn and a hot chocolate from Goody Cafe. Comfortably seated in the car, I watched two amazing, thought-provoking films.

Sisters Apart.

SISTERS APART

Directed by Daphne Charizani and starring Almila Bagriacik and Zübeide Bulut, Sisters Apart is the story of a young, German soldier with Kurdish roots, in search of her beloved sister who remains in a land terrorized by war. It is a stark reminder about the continuing suffering of innocent people. The film is in German, English and Kurdish, with English subtitles. 

The drive-in was the film’s Northern California Premiere and it included a pre-recorded interview with director Daphne Charizane in conversation with Sophoan Soon, the festival’s director. 

People can still watch Sisters Apart on demand, May 26-30, 2021 on BerlinBeyond.com

Nowhere in Africa.

NOWHERE IN AFRICA

Directed by Caroline Link, Nowhere in Africa is extraordinary. It tells the true story of a Jewish family who moved to Kenya, fleeing the Nazi regime. It is about cultural differences and the similarities of the human experience. Starring Juliane Koehler, Merab Ninidze, Sidede Onyulo, Karoline Eckertz, Mattias Habich and Lea Kurka, they won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2002.

Prior to the movie, director Caroline Link received a life tribute via a pre-recorded conversation with Noémie Njangiru, director of the Goethe-Institut. 

“When I make films, I always seek to present different culture and to pay attention to the specific details and nuances that make a culture special,” Link said. 

After the drive-in experience and feeling in awe by watching meaningful German cinema in two consecutive evenings, I congratulate Berlin and Beyond for their 25th Anniversary, and wish them to remain as interesting and relevant for many years to come. 

For more information, please go to BerlinBeyond.com

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