Berlin Film Festival: Live Summer Event in Question, Final Decision Coming in May

Berlin Film Festival organizers have said that staging their planned “Summer Special” in-person event in June is proving to be a “bigger challenge” given a recent update to the country’s Infection Protection Act following the COVID-19 crisis.

A statement from the festival on Wednesday said that Berlin directors are currently speaking with German authorities to “determine the next steps for an all-outdoor event.”

“The Berlinale also wants to explore the possibility of a pilot cultural event with mandatory testing. A final decision regarding the Summer Special will be made beginning of May. Everyone’s health and curbing the development of the pandemic is, of course, the top priority when making any considerations,” said the fest.

Berlin has also made very clear that postponing June’s Summer Special, or switching to an online audience festival, “has never been an option,” suggesting the event will either happen or not.

“From the start, what we’ve really wanted to do is present the Berlinale films to audiences at a shared cinema experience,” said fest directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian.

Berlin confirmed in December that it would take place “in two stages” in 2021 — first with a virtual European Film Market in March, and then as a summer event with film screenings for public audiences in cinemas as well as open air.

However, the public health situation in Germany, which is experiencing a third wave of the virus, has evidently made the latter far more difficult.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, the festival also said that its Retrospective films won’t be part of a June event, even if it goes ahead, as an open-air presentation doesn’t allow for 35mm prints. As such, the 2021 Retrospective program will be postponed to 2022 “in order to preserve its curatorial requirements,” the festival said.

Further, a Forum Expanded exhibition that was set to open on May 18 has been canceled. The artist group The Living and the Dead Ensemble will instead show from May 18 in the windows of SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin, said the festival. The selected works will be presented next year.

More to come. 

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