Will The Berlin Film Festival Be Postponed? “February Feasibility & Alternative Options” Being Explored, Say Organizers

Rumours have been swirling in Europe this week that the Berlin Film Festival will be postponed amid continuing high coronavirus numbers in Germany and across the continent.

Organizers for the event, which is due to run February 11-21 as a hybrid physical festival and online and physical market, told us yesterday: “The Berlinale has been observing the COVID-19 situation carefully. We are currently testing the feasibility of the festival in February, as well as alternative options. Further information on the planning of the Berlinale 2021 will follow asap.”

When pressed on a timeline for any change to the dates, the festival said there should be an update “very soon”.

This is a different tone to just a couple of weeks ago when the festival told us it was “too early to consider cancellation” and that the event “still plans to take place as a physical event in February”, albeit with a reduced lineup.

Fatalism has been setting in among Berlinale regulars given the ongoing Covid crisis. Many are expecting at least a delay and a number of industry we have spoken to are unfortunately not planning on attending either way given the travel complications and status of the pandemic.

Cinemas are to remain closed in Germany until at least January 10 and this week German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for tougher coronavirus restrictions over the festive period.

The number of Covid cases and deaths has been rising in Germany. The country recorded 542 deaths yesterday while Tuesday saw a country-record 622 deaths.

With widespread availability of vaccines not likely until spring at the earliest, there is also speculation among some in industry that Cannes (May 14 -25) itself may need to be pushed back. When contacted by Deadline, organizers told us that “nothing had changed” since an update in October when President Pierre Lescure said that contingency dates in 2021 have been lined up in case the event does need to move.


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