With 2020 basically canceling much of the film festival season, or at least forcing many to go digital, the hope was that 2021 would be different. Well, COVID-19 doesn’t care about what the film industry wishes would happen. And now, it appears the Berlin International Film Festival is the latest victim of pandemic issues.
According to Variety, the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival is radically altering its plans after a spike in COVID in Germany is forcing the organizers to completely rethink what they were originally hoping would happen. Basically, the new plan is reportedly going to force the 2021 event to be split, with the main competition going all-virtual in March (pushed from the original February date), with a “mini-festival” with on-site world premieres launching (hopefully) sometime in June.
The decision will reportedly be made official later this week and comes as the organizers were hoping to push the entire festival to April. Unfortunately, the German government, who subsidizes some of the cost of the event, wouldn’t commit to a date change given the unpredictability of the pandemic. With that in mind, the organizers are now forced to do this hybrid, split festival idea, with the main competition (i.e. the high profile film debuts) going all-virtual.
The Sundance Film Festival, which is another major film event that occurs in early 2021, already made the decision to do virtual premieres for most of its lineup, with select in-person screenings happening on a case-by-case basis. However, it was the hope that the international festivals would fare better considering how Europe and the rest of the world haven’t had the same crisis-level of spikes that the US has been experiencing this fall.
However, clearly, the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival is showing that the schedule of festivals in 2021 is still a work in progress. Hopefully, we’ll have more information later this week when the organizers make an announcement.