Berlin filmfest to go forward in person
The Berlinale, Europe’s first major film festival of the year, will take place next month as an in-person event, organizers confirmed on Jan. 19, just as the Omicron wave is expected to peak in Germany.
Surprising some observers expecting it to go online for the second year running, the Berlinale announced a program with 18 films in competition.
It includes new movies from France’s Francois Ozon and Claire Denis, “Carol” screenwriter Phyllis Nagy and previous winner Paolo Taviani of Italy.
Expecting thousands of guests from around the world, festival directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian told a virtual news conference they had come up with a plan with state health authorities for its 72nd edition.
It includes a shorter program, requirements for participants to be vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 and smaller audiences to keep participants safe.
Berlinale, which ranks along with Cannes and Venice among Europe’s top cinema showcases, is set to run between Feb. 10 and 20. But the screenings for reporters, critics and industry participants have been curtailed to seven days, followed by four days of movies for the general public.
Cinemas and theaters are still open in Germany but most large events and fairs across the country have been cancelled to try to curb the spread of the virus.
Ozon, one of France’s most acclaimed directors, will open the festival with “Peter von Kant” starring Isabelle Adjani, a remake of a classic Rainer Werner Fassbinder movie.
Denis, one of seven women directors in competition, will premiere “Both Sides of the Blade” starring Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon.
Nagy will present “Call Jane” starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver about a group of abortion rights activists in 1960s America.
And Taviani, who won the Berlinale in 2012 with his late brother Vittorio with “Caesar Must Die”, will unveil “Leonora Addio” about the murder of a Sicilian immigrant boy in Brooklyn.
Indian-born American director M. Night Shyamalan will head up the jury selecting the winners of the Golden and Silver Bear top prizes.
The festival will also award an honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement to French screen legend Isabelle Huppert.
Last year the Berlinale, which was staging a two-part hybrid event, awarded the top prize to Romanian pandemic-era satire “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn.”