"Ride the Subway, See a Movie"

(but don't look at the soft upholstered seating)

No, not in New York of course, where transit communications systems have changed little in the last 100 years. Instead, this is the headline of a short item by Sarah Plass in today's NYTimes. It's about a real film festival located entirely inside Berlin's modern subway cars.

A ride on the Berlin subways these days is a literal and figurative trip. For 1.5 million passengers daily, a ride means access to the fifth international short-film festival, "Going Underground," in which four ultrashort films a day are playing on 4,000 screens in the trains. Altogether, 14 international productions, each not longer than 90 seconds and all silent, were chosen from 450 shorts from 39 countries. Films from Germany, the United States, Britain and Brazil, for example, feature 3-D characters, monsters and abstract art. Several other films, competing for the Renewable Movie Award, deal with renewable resources. In what is billed as the world's first underground film festival, passengers are asked to vote for their favorites via cellphone text messages or online [on the festival website www.goingunderground.de]. The award ceremony will be on Feb. 12, with the winner receiving $3,600, which can be used for longer productions. The festival runs through Tuesday.
The article doesn't mention that this is actually the fifth Kurzfilmfestival in der U-Bahn!

We were very impressed with the transit system when we were in Berlin last fall. Yes, these screens are used for advertising much of the time, but they also offer grown-up news and weather segments, as well as short entertainment spots. Looking over my shoulder, Barry has just warned me to be careful about what I wish for. I'm not wishing, but I agree that if the MTA ever got around to installing a similar system, the programing would probably be controlled by FOX - and it wouldn't be subtle and it wouldn't be delivered at a moderate sound volume.

Right now I'd just be happy to have the L train back on weekends.

[image from Screenlabs]

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Published on February 3, 2006 5:16 PM.

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