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Culinary Cinema: Tickets, Please?
by Mary Nyiri

The Culinary Cinema (Kulinarisches Kino) returns to Berlin and purchasing tickets for dinner and a movie is just as difficult online as it was when it began seven years ago. Since I know I will be in Berlin for the film festival each year, I book a hotel room well in advance. For Hamburgers who just want to see a film in the Culinary Cinema program and then have dinner at the Gropius Mirror restaurant, planning ahead is not an option. Tickets do not go on sale until two weeks before the festival begins at which time hotel prices are at a premium. And, unless you want to spend the night in Berlin anyway, there is a good chance that if you book your hotel early relying on getting tickets later, you will be disappointed. Even logging on at precisely 10:00 a.m. for the start of ticket sales does not mean you will get tickets. In fact, I was successful at buying online tickets only once out of three years.

This year at precisely ten o’clock Eventim (online ticket shop) was already too busy to allow access. After about ten minutes I was allowed to choose three tickets but was then kicked out because it was too busy and told to try later. This happened several times over the next forty minutes. The three-ticket option became only a two-ticket option. I got all the way through payment for two tickets and entered to complete the transaction and was kicked out a final time. The next time I went to click on the tickets, the screen showed all dinner-and-a-movie tickets were sold out, for every film. So I called the festival ticketing office in Berlin directly and was told there were still tickets left. I was advised to call an Eventim office in Hamburg. I spoke with several different Eventim offices and each one said they had never directly sold tickets to customers for the festival. That was it, no tickets. Again.

While in Berlin for the festival, I just happened to walk through the Arkaden, a shopping mall in Potsdamer Platz, and noticed the Berlinale ticket booths. They had large computer screens showing the status of ticket sales for films by date. By chance the screen was up for the film I had tried to get tickets for, Red Obsession, showing tickets available. So I waited in line about twenty minutes and bought one. My colleague decided she wanted to see the film, after all, on the day of the screening. We waited in line about fifteen minutes only to be told that on the day of the event, tickets were sold only at the venue (a fifteen-minute walk away). This made no sense since all tickets are sold through a central system operated by Eventim.

I attended the film and dinner afterwards on my own, instead of with two colleagues as originally hoped. It was surprising to see empty seats. Speaking with the couple next to me, I learned they had tried to buy four tickets for the evening from a ticket office in Berlin but could only buy two. Even being in Berlin they couldn’t buy the number of tickets they wanted. The price of dinner and a movie has skyrocketed to 85 euros per person. I suppose at that price they can afford empty seats.