Erich Siebzehnrübl walks with purpose through the historic quarter of Passau, jokes with passers and unlocks the front door. We hear the 81 year-old panting and wheezing. He has run the little PAM-Kino adult movie theater since the seventies. An antiquated theater with a VHS camcorder; ashtrays and heavy, wine-colored curtains. He curses God for taking his wife from him and sees himself playing cards with the Devil after his death, with a few porno tapes.
Since the advent of the internet, demand has decreased dramatically. Only a handful of loyal customers still attend the few daily screenings. The cinema is “a totally unique place, timeless, even anachronistic,” says filmmaker Tuna Kaptan, “especially for my generation, for which erotic content is just a mouse click away.” Originally from Passau, Kaptan studies Film Directing at the University of Television and Film in Munich, and was part of the team that filmed Siebzehnrübl.
The 16mm film is a considerate observation, the pervasive calm of which is only broken by Mr. Siebzehnrübl’s dark humor and the anecdotes from his life. For the filmmaker, Mr. Siebzehnrübl isn’t just a portrait; it’s also an approach to childhood memories. As a child, Kaptan passed by the cinema each day on his way to school.
The PAM-Kino was badly damaged in 2013 by a flood, and Siebzehnrübl finally gave up the business for good in 2015. Kaptan used the opportunity to document the last days of an obsolete institution.