Berlinale’s European Film Market goes online, Festival stays in-person

Due to the pandemic, the European Film Market, which is held alongside the Berlin Film Festival for two years, will now be hosted online. The festival will still be available in person. Variety You can find out.

Many sources indicate that the EFM quickly changed its tune after a spike in COVID-19-related cases in Germany. The festival did not respond to requests for comment by press time, although it’s understood that a formal announcement is imminent.

The EFM is the world’s second biggest film market following Cannes’ Marché du Film. It was announced mid-December that the EFM would be a largely in person edition. Most exhibition space was fully booked. Berlin has been experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases over the past weeks.

Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases reported Thursday 56,335 new cases of COVID-19 that had been confirmed in laboratory tests. There were also 264 deaths related to the virus. Only 41.6% have received booster shots, while 71.6% have been vaccinated with both vaccines. (The government has set a target of 80% for double-dose vaccinations and hopes to distribute 30 million booster shots by January.

At a major government briefing on Friday afternoon, it’s believed that new restrictions on social distancing are being mooted, as well as allowing access to restaurants only with proof of a booster or negative COVID test. It is also being looked at to reduce the quarantine period.

All eyes have been on Berlin since Wednesday’s cancellation of Sundance’s in-person edition, which dealt a heavy blow to morale across the film industry. With only two weeks remaining, Park City organizers decided to cancel the confab and go completely virtual for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 situation within the U.S.

“Despite the most ambitious protocols, the Omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures across the country,”Sundance organizers stated in a statement that they were “disappointed to not provide the full hybrid experience and gather in-person as intended.”

Berlin held an event virtually in February but also in person in June. This was well attended by the German industrial sector.

The festival’s organizers have been closely monitoring the COVID situation since December, when Germany first began imposing restrictions to fight the wave of Omicron, which is causing 25% of all new COVID cases in the country, and is expected to become the dominant variant in a few days’ time.

Although it’s believed the festival was exploring a June contingency plan, Berlinale executive director Mariette Rissenbeek and artistic director Carlo Chatrian assured VarietyLate-December saw plans for a February physical event with full movie theater capacity and the same amount of films as pre-pandemic. It’s unclear now whether those same conditions will continue to apply to the fest.

Omicron has had a few surprises. VarietyIt is understood that Berlin’s government and the City of Berlin support the festival being held as an in-person event, especially since the so-called “2G”Rules are in effect, which means that only those who are vaccinated, or have just recovered from COVID, are permitted to enter restaurants, museums, and other events.

More to follow.

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