The Berlin Film Festival takes place in person despite the ‘unimaginable’ epidemic


BERLIN – The Berlin International Film Festival will be held in person next month, despite rising virus numbers in Germany, particularly in the capital, organizers said on Wednesday.

“We are aware of the challenges posed by the unexpected course of infectious disease,” the festival’s management said in a statement, adding that strict epidemiological measures would be applied to the 72nd edition of one of the world’s most famous film festivals.

“We want this festival to send a signal to the entire film industry, to theaters and film audiences, and to the culture as a whole – we need cinema, we need culture,” said Claudia Roth, Germany’s Minister of Culture and Media.

“Of course, nowadays, it can only be managed with some pain reduction and constant vigilance,” he said. “The epidemic is dynamic, and the Berlin Film Festival is adapting to the challenges that arise.”

Only people who are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have recently recovered from infection will have access to the festival grounds.

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Additionally, everyone attending requires daily rapid testing and masks. Movie theater attendance will be reduced to 50% capacity and all parties and receptions – usually a major highlight of the film festival – will be canceled.

Last year’s film festival was renewed by the virus and split into two parts – one for the industry and one for the summer.

The inauguration is still scheduled for February 10, and the awards will be given out a little earlier than originally planned on February 16, German news agency dpa reported.

The festival’s opening film will be “Peter van Kant” by French film director and screenwriter Francois Ozone. The film is a free version of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film “The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant”.

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Starring Denise Menochet, Isabelle Adzani and Hannah Skaigullah, the film is part of the festival’s international competition and will celebrate its world premiere on Feb. 10, organizers said.

The jury of the festival was joined by American filmmaker M. The Knight Shyamalan will be led and the Golden Bear will be honored for the lifetime achievement of French actress Isabelle Huppert.

“Huppert is one of the most versatile actors in the world and has played influential roles in over 150 cinema and television productions,” the festival’s management said.

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