Berlin Film Festival shortens event

Pandemic also leads to reduction in seating capacity

by Amber Wilkinson

Denis Ménochet and Isabelle Adjani in Ozon's Peter von Kant
Denis Ménochet and Isabelle Adjani in Ozon's Peter von Kant Photo: Courtesy of Berlinale
The Berlin Film Festival has confirmed it will go ahead but seating capacity and the length of the event have both been reduced.

The festival will now run from February 10 to 16, rather than 20 as previously planned and, with Covid cases again on the rise in Germany, the seating capacity at venues has been reduced to 50 per cent, with no parties or receptions.

A statement from the organisers said: “The Berlinale has developed a new concept so that it can fly the flag for culture emphatically, even in these times of pandemic. The focus this year, therefore, will be on cinema screenings in the Berlinale venues. The health and safety of the audience at all events and strict compliance with the current hygiene regulations remain the top priority.”

The festival will open with François Ozon drama Peter Von Kant, starring Denis Menochet, Isabelle Adjani and Hanna Schygulla and the awards, including the Golden Bear, will be presented on February 16.

Ozon's film is described as a "free interpretation" of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant.

Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian: “We are beyond thrilled to welcome back François Ozon to the festival and are happy to launch our next edition with his new film. For this year’s opening, we were looking for a film that could bring lightness and verve into our somber daily lives. Peter von Kant is a theatrical tour de force around the concept of lockdown. In the hands of Ozon, the kammerspiel becomes the perfect container for love and jealousy, seduction and humour—indeed, everything that makes life and art so entangled.”

Speaking about the adjusted festival dates, Berlinale directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said: “We are aware of the challenges posed by the unpredictable course of the pandemic. At the same time, we believe that culture plays such a fundamental role in society that we do not want to lose sight of this aspect.

“We would like to enable festival screenings for our audiences and filmmakers even in these times of pandemic. With our new concept, we are focusing fully on the cinematic experience and reducing the formation of groups. The key thing is to give audiences and film teams a collective experience of cinema with this changed concept, while reducing the number of face-to-face encounters in compliance with the corona regulations. Our international guests are keen to present their work on site.”

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