Berlinale announces two-part event

Festival adjusts schedule in response to pandemic

by Amber Wilkinson

Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek
Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek Photo: Courtesy of Berlinale

The Berlin Film Festival has announced a new format for its 2021 edition in response to the Covid pandemic.

The industry platforms European Film Market, Berlinale Co-Production Market, Berlinale Talents and the World Cinema Fund will kick off the 71st Berlinale in March with online. Then in June, there will be a summer event with numerous film screenings for the public audiences – in cinemas as well as open air.

Artistic director Carlo Chatrian said: “As an answer to the times in which we are living, we have decided to split our offer into two distinct, yet related events and in this way fulfil the mission of the Berlinale. While in March the film industry will be gathered (online) and will be able to support and give light to our selection, in summer – like a new start, 70 years after the first edition – our audiences will be able to celebrate the filmmakers and their teams, in theatres and under the open sky. This gives the opportunity to experience the different sections and profiles of the festival, to watch the films of the international Competition and to celebrate with the winners of the Golden and Silver Bears in a cheerful atmosphere."

This February, Berlin was the last major film festival to happen in its usual format before the pandemic swept the globe, closing cinemas and resulting in hybrid editions of festivals - a situation continuing into next year with the announcement of Sundance's virtual edition.

Berlinale says the current process of film selection will be continued and the programme will be published in February and presented at the virtual European Film Market in March. An international jury will select winners and these will be presented to the Berlin audience in summer.

Berlinale executive director Mariette Rissenbeek said: “There is a great desire to meet face-to-face. The current situation does not allow a physical festival in February, at the same time it is important to offer the film industry a market within the first quarter of the year.

“With the change in the festival format in 2021, we will have the chance to protect the health of all guests and to support the restart of the cinema industry. With the summer event, we want to celebrate a festival for the cinema and offer the Berlinale audience the long-awaited community experience of cinema and culture.”

The European Film Market (EFM) will now take place online from March 1 to 5. The Berlinale Co-Production Market is similarly relocating its activities from March 1 to 5 online.

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