"They know their stuff. If you have a Q&A afterwards, it's fascinating to listen because they're like, 'Why did you do this? Why did you do that?'" said McInnis. "They're well-versed in the art of cinema, and they're not afraid to share their thoughts, which can be really good. Or really terrifying."
Anna Tihanyi, a photographer visiting from Hungary, dutifully took her place at the end of a long queue of ticket buyers, observing: "It's surprisingly normal." On her wish list: Linklater's daring "Boyhood," which followed a boy growing up over a 12-year period, a film about photographer Vivian Maier and a Mexican road-trip flick.
"I thought you had to have an invitation to see the movies," said Tihanyi, 34, unconcerned about the long wait ahead of her. "For me, it's part of the process. You know — if you really want to go to a concert, you have to stand in line."
Around her stood young couples, older women wreathed in scarves, men in overcoats and berets, groups of giggling friends.
Wolf Sabel, the retired engineer, put away his carefully laid-out grid and stepped forward a pace, finally within striking distance of the counter.
"It's a nice atmosphere. People are very patient," said Sabel, 58, to an approving nod from his wife, Astrid. "We have a lot of special things in Berlin. This is one of them."