The Berlin Film Festival is rethinking its offering in 2021 due to the pandemic.
Industry platforms the European Film Market, Berlinale Co-Production Market, Berlinale Talents and the World Cinema Fund will take place online between March 1-5.
In June, there will be a summer event with film screenings for the public in cinemas as well as open air venues.
Berlin had been due to run February 11-21 as a hybrid physical festival and online and physical market. But rumors have been swirling for weeks that the festival would need to be postponed amid high coronavirus numbers in Germany and across Europe.
The current process of selecting films for the Competition and the sections will be continued. The program will be published in February and presented to the industry at the virtual European Film Market (EFM) in March. An International Jury will watch the films in Berlin and will choose the prize winners. The winners and a selection of the films will be presented to the Berlin audience in the summer. To start off the summer event, the Berlinale is planning a “festive opening”.
“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 fulfill 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 theaters 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,” said Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian.
“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,” added Berlinale Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek.
“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 Berlinale’s announcement today will lead to plenty of questions over the type of lineup the event will gather in June, but also prompt questions around the dating and makeup of other European film events this year, not least Cannes, which is due to take place in May.
Germany recorded a daily record 952 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday and has recorded more than 400 deaths for 11 days in a row.
Fatalism had been setting in among Berlinale regulars given the ongoing Covid crisis. Many were expecting at least a delay and a number of industry we spoke to were not planning on attending either way given the travel complications and status of the pandemic.
Cinemas are to remain closed in Germany until at least January 10 and the country has implemented tougher coronavirus restrictions over the festive period with shops, schools and nurseries all closed. Deadline’s sister publication Variety reported the March-June Berlin split earlier this week.