When I moved to Switzerland, one of the biggest shocks I experienced was the fact that films at cinemas are dubbed in German.
I had never really thought about it before and simply assumed that all films were played in their original language, with German subtitles. As a teenager, I saw the French movie Amélie on DVD, and never thought of watching it in English (I am not even sure it was available in English as I never checked). I would simply pop it in the DVD player and switch on the English subtitles and relished listening to the beautiful French language.
The same goes for every other DVD I rented from the foreign film section. I watched German films like Good Bye, Lenin! and Icelandic films like Nói albinói (Noi the Albino), enjoying the quirkiness of foreign cinema and getting to hear languages that were different from my own. To me, it would not have sounded right watching Audrey Tautou run around Montmartre while having some faceless actor‘s voice say her lines in English (and worse, out of sync).
Kino Cameo in Winterthur
Living in Winterthur, it upset me that there were hardly any cinemas where I could watch foreign films, independent films, and English films in English (apart from Loge). Every time a movie on my watch list was released, I would need to go to one of the Arthouse cinemas in Zürich for independent features, or to the big cinemas to watch Blockbusters in the original language.
Luckily, a group of passionate film lovers has changed all of that in late 2015 when they opened the doors of Kino Cameo. This boutique movie house is located on Lagerplatz behind the Winterthur train station, a former industrial area that is now beginning to take shape and is turning into one of the hippest hangouts in the city.
I spoke with the cinema manager and one of the founders of Cameo, Liliane, who graciously invited me to a film showing and answered my questions about the cinema.
Liliane informed me that the team that opened Kino Cameo belonged to a film club (Filmfoyer Winterthur) that had been active for 45 years. At one point, they decided to start their own cinema for art house, indie and foreign films - as well as reruns of classic films.
Kino Cameo opened its doors in October 2015, and it has been doing well ever since. Everyone involved is a volunteer, and this project is born of a true passion for film. Despite being small compared to commercial cinemas, the space is quite impressive.
This art house boasts a bar offering local and imported beers, wine, spirits as well as snacks such as feta, sun dried tomatoes and olives and various pastries. Also, there are seats where people can convene after the screening to discuss the film.
Six weeks is enough time to plan
Another thing that sets Kino Cameo apart from other cinemas is that their screening program is released six weeks in advance, giving patrons enough time to plan their visit. Regardless of whether a film does well, the program remains the same. This is perfect for the Swiss who like to be organized and well-informed!
Cameo also works in cooperation with Kraftfeld's monthly Rap History night by playing old-school hip-hop films from the 90s before the party commences at the club, only a few steps away. This attracts younger patrons to the cinema and offers a unique experience that cannot be found anywhere else in Winterthur.
For yet younger audiences, kids' movies are screened on the first Sunday of every month. For the night owls, monthly late-night screenings are available, and for serious cinephiles, arthouse film premieres are exciting events as the directors are invited to come along and answer questions about their film.
Kino Cameo offers an annual "all you can watch" membership for 300 francs. (Santa, are you listening?)
This small but charming cinema is helping to redefine Winterthur, making it more artistically and culturally aware, and making it easier for expats like me to enjoy English films in their original version. Plus, it infuses the city by the Töss river with foreign, independent and classic films.
(Photographs copyright Kino Cameo)