Berlinale to Go Ahead With In-Person Festival in February

The Berlin Film Festival will go ahead as an in-person event in February, Variety has confirmed.

Although the European Film Market, which normally runs alongside the Berlinale, will be fully virtual, organizers have said the festival will continue as planned, albeit with strict COVID protocols in place for delegates who decide to attend, all of which will be revealed in the coming days.

A spokesperson for the festival told Variety: “We are very pleased with the positive signal from the authorities so far and feel encouraged to continue with the planning. We hope to be able to announce the final concept for the 2022 Berlinale very soon.”

The update comes amid days of discussions between organizers and various levels of government. More details on how exactly the festival will unfold will be released on Wednesday, once the final details about the shape of the event have been ironed out with local authorities.

News of the in-person event — set to run Feb. 10-20 — will no doubt come as a relief to delegates who have been wondering what may happen to this year’s festival, which has been keenly anticipated by the global industry after a fully virtual effort in February 2021.

On Friday, Variety revealed that the European Film Market would go virtual following the rise of the Omicron variant in Germany. Given the world’s second biggest film market following Cannes’ Marché du Film had said in mid-December that it was on track for a largely in-person edition — with exhibition space in its main venues, the Gropius Bau and Marriott Hotel, almost fully booked up — the news was a crushing blow for the industry, which was already smarting from the cancellation of Sundance’s plans for a physical festival in late January.

Yet even without an in-person EFM, Berlin organizers have consistently said the festival will move ahead. The question now is what proportion of the international industry can justify attending, or indeed, can manage navigating travel amid the wave of Omicron.

Variety understands that the City of Berlin and the government has been in full support of the festival going ahead as an in-person event, especially with the so-called “2G” rules in place, meaning that only vaccinated or those who have recently recovered from COVID would be allowed entry into restaurants, museums and certain events.

The Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases reported 45,690 new laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and 322 deaths. Around 74.7% of the German population have received both vaccines, but just 43.5% have received the booster. (The government has set an 80% target for double-dose vaccinations, and aims to administer 30 million booster shots by the end of January.)

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