Berlin: Berlin’s international film festival postponed on Friday its February 2021 edition as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a harsh toll on the global entertainment industry.
Usually Europe’s first major cinema showcase of the year, the annual Berlinale, as the event is known, will now take place as a strictly digital event for industry players in March.
An international jury, whose previous presidents include Meryl Streep and Tilda Swinton, will watch the films in competition in Berlin and choose the winners of the Golden and Silver Bear top prizes.
Featured films would only be screened for the public in June, the festival said in a statement. “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,” Berlinale Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek said.
“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.” Alongside the competition for the Golden Bear and screenings of hundreds of new films, the normally 11-day Berlinale also hosts the European Film Market where movie distribution rights are bought and sold.
Moritz Hemminger, deputy head of sales and acquisitions at sales agency ARRI Media, said pushing the Berlinale into the spring wouldn’t have a major impact on the festival circuit, even though it would be closer to Cannes, usually held in May.
“Producers were holding back movies over the last months for the return of physical festival editions,” he told trade magazine Variety.”There are many exciting films lined up and ready to be showcased at major festivals next year.”
The 2020 edition of the Berlinale took place in February before Germany felt the full impact of the virus. The Golden Bear went to an Iranian drama filmed in secret, There Is No Evil.