Abaton Kino, Hamburg
How Hamburg won our crazy hearts…
By Léa Germain
Hambourg mon amour
The Abaton Kino lays on the campus of Hamburg’s University, in the district of Grindel, Eimsbüttel. I must say I was very excited to come back to this place where I had once studied (well, last year), to the cinema I sometimes went to just after having spent the entire day sitting in the antique class rooms of Allende Platz building for social sciences. Back then, I used to think that there was a strong correlation between the unbelievable quantities of rain water pouring onto Hamburg and the length of the line standing in front of the cinema, before I considered other possibilities.
Just what is it that makes today’s art-house so different, so appealing?
Matthias Elwardt, who runs the cinema, received us as a real gentleman. The meeting took place in the comfortable Abaton Bistrot_ attending : Tobias, CEO and Co-Funder of moviepilot, Rachael, Matthias, Martin, who takes care of the website and of the facebook page of the cinema, and me.
Matthias Elwardt is undoubtedly a real cinema passionate, festival pearls hunter; and the Abaton reflects both his love for cinema as movies and as the place where they are displayed. After almost one month of brainstorming about online media strategies, our meeting at the Abaton at least reminded us of the core mission of a cinema: to be a social place, which brings people together to go and see a good movie, in a convivial space and atmosphere. As an art-house cinema, the Abaton banks first of all on the quality of the movies that are shown in its three theatres. 80% of them are European movies, running in Original Version with subtitles since the early 90’s, which is quite of an exception in the cinema market landscape in Germany. Here also take place special events, such as screenings with guests or film premieres (160 screenings in 2009 with over 200 guests, a record!). The educational mission of an art-house cinema is fulfilled through special screenings for children, answering an existing demand from the schools themselves.
Coming soon: Abaton 2.0
Needless to say, Matthias Elwardt spends much more time programming, organising or publishing than surfing on the Internet! Still this in no ways means that he doesn’t care about it. Aware enough of the major potential input of online engagement with his audience, he knows that the facebook page created by Martin gathers the highest number of fans for a cinema page in Germany (1110 in 6 months!). The first generation website is still waiting for re-launch, but things are definitely moving on the way towards a higher online engagement between the Abaton and its young audience. However, the good old guest book remains irreplaceable, so seemed to say at least a lovely bunch of elderly ladies as we were writing down our first thoughts, coming out of the screening of Crazy Heart 😉
Crazy Heart, A Happy Start
Having learnt a lot during our interview with Matthias and Martin, and been offered a very pleasant cinema travel through the country music territories of Crazy Heart, we were more than happy to spend the rest of our time walking around in Schanze Viertel and Sankt Pauli.
Rachael discovered the meaning of happiness passing by a wine and shoe shop, and I could celebrate my reunion with Hamburg, its Astra beers, its unique flair, its cold, incessant rain…