Lodderbast - Sometimes great cinemas come in small packages
Tucked away among office buildings and apartments in Hannover’s Warmbüchenviertel neighborhood, stands Lodderbast, Germany’s smallest cinema, and according to its owners, possibly the smallest in the world.
By Daniel Chaffey
What makes Lodderbast stand out from other German cinemas, aside from its tiny size, are the owners, husband and wife team Johannes and Wiebke Thomsen. Driven by a passion for films and a dream of creating an inviting space for filmgoers to gather, socialize, and discuss films both before and after the screenings, the Thomsens asked themselves, “Do we want to own our home, or own our jobs?” After extensive planning, the couple chose to put their jobs on hold and open their dream cinema in January of 2018.
At a mere 420 square feet and seating for only 20, the cinema encompasses the box office, concessions, and auditorium all in one space, where film posters cover the ceiling and 1950s cocktail chairs stand-in for the usual movie theatre seats. In the back, the bar offers homemade snacks, popcorn, and craft beers, all of which create an inviting and intimate living room-like atmosphere. For the Thomsens, who live in the tiny apartment above the cinema, Lodderbast is an extension of their home.
In homage to their hometown, the couple chose the name Lodderbast, a term from Hannover’s Calenberger Platt dialect that refers to a wild, chaotic or disorganized person, or even a problem child. True to its name, Lodderbast offers a wild and eclectic program of current German and international films that includes premieres, classics, and overlooked gems of independent cinema. According to Johannes, “We program our monthly series according to taste, desire and mood, as long as the program fits together. We also have an ongoing focus on presenting “wild German cinema.” Whenever possible, filmmakers are invited to introduce and discuss their film. Past series include themes such as Films tthe World doesn’t not need, Animals, and 100 Years of German Cinema.
In March 2020, shortly after celebrating their second anniversary and receipt of the Testbericht.de award for Germany’s Most-Loved Cinema, Lodderbast was one of the first cinemas in Germany to close their doors and temporarily halt in-person programs in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the Thomsens remain committed to offering a space to gather, view, and discuss films. Since closing their doors, Lodderbast has offered a daily live-streamed film screening, followed by a discussion, all for free. Although the Lodderbast community cannot meet in person, the Thomsens have seen an incredible response to their online programming, with over 40,000 viewers from across the globe since the transition to the virtual format.
Johannes and Wiebke are patiently monitoring the current situation and looking forward to welcoming guests back in September for in -person screenings. Until then, the couple will continue to offer virtual screenings and discussions, and plan to continue to do so even once they return to in-house programming. When asked how they see the future of the cinema, Johannes replied “Exciting, and full of passion and love, and hopefully a full theatre.”
Learn more about Lodderbast’s digital programs on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.