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Berlinale unveils new in-person festival concept, to kick off with François Ozon oeuvre

While the concurrent European Film Market, Berlinale Co-Production Market, Berlinale Talents and World Cinema Fund will go digital, the festival will "fly the flag for culture emphatically" as it unveiled a new concept for our modern times.
Berlinale unveils new in-person festival concept, to kick off with François Ozon oeuvre

The Berlinale announced on Wednesday that is has developed a new concept so that it can "fly the flag for culture emphatically," even in these times of pandemic. The focus this year, therefore, will be on cinema screenings in the Berlinale venues. The health and safety of the audience at all events and strict compliance with the current hygiene regulations remain the top priority for the festival.

Following recent decisions by the Federal Government and the Berlin Senate, the previously developed hygiene and security measures have been reviewed once again, so that the 2022 festival can be organised as an in-person 2G-plus event (additional masking and testing requirement).

This despite Germany registering a record number of cases this week, a daily hit of over 80,000 infections, as Reuters reported.

The Berlinale has changed its format and concept due to the pandemic: The festival will start on February 10 with the ceremonial opening at the Berlinale Palast. Afterwards, until February 16, film teams will present their films personally to the public and accredited audiences at the premieres in the various Berlinale cinemas. The award ceremony for the Golden and Silver Bears, as well as the GWFF Best First Feature Award and the Berlinale Documentary Award will take place on the evening of February 16. The “Publikumstag” event, which has been very popular for some years now, will be extended to four days in 2022: from February 17-20, there will be repeat screenings in all the Berlinale cinemas (at the regular standard price of 10 Euros).

In addition to shortening the part of the festival consisting of presentations, the new concept also envisages a fundamental reduction in seating capacity in the Berlinale cinemas to 50 percent. Due to the pandemic, it will not be possible to hold parties and receptions, but for film teams there will still be a chance to appear in a reduced format on the Red Carpet at the Berlinale Palast or at other premiere cinemas in the presence of the press, which will help to create a touch of the traditional festival atmosphere.

The opening film will be French director, writer and producer François Ozon's reinvention of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1972 masterpiece Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant). The film stars Denis Menochet, Isabelle Adjani and Hanna Schygulla (who also starred in the original film), is part of the international Competition and will celebrate its world premiere on February 10, 2022, at the Berlinale Palast. Turning the character of Petra von Kant into a man and a filmmaker, superbly played by Menochet, François Ozon pays tribute not only to the original film but to Fassbinder himself, and, in doing so, also delivers with his usual irony a very personal, playful self-portrait. The film is produced by FOZ (France) and Playtime will handle international sales.

Ozon is back in the Berlinale Competition for the sixth time – 20 years after his cast as an ensemble won a Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution with 8 Femmes, which will also be screened this year as part of the Homage to Isabelle Huppert. In 2019 Ozon was awarded with the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for Grâce à Dieu (By the Grace of God).

“It is such a pleasure and honour to return to Berlin, where I only have great memories, 22 years after the premiere of Water Drops on Burning Rocks, adapted from Rainer Werner Fassbinder,” commented Ozon. “The Berlin International Film Festival is the ideal place to discover Peter von Kant, which celebrates my attachment as a French director to German culture. Thank you for the selection.”

Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian added: “We are beyond thrilled to welcome back François Ozon to the festival and are happy to launch our next edition with his new film. For this year’s opening, we were looking for a film that could bring lightness and verve into our somber daily lives. Peter von Kant is a theatrical tour de force around the concept of lockdown. In the hands of Ozon, the kammerspiel ("chamber play") becomes the perfect container for love and jealousy, seduction and humour - indeed, everything that makes life and art so entangled.”

Photo © Daniel Seiffert / Berlinale

The new State Minister for Culture and Media, Claudia Roth, commented: “We want to make the Berlinale possible, and according to current deliberations, we can achieve this. We want the festival to send a signal to the entire film industry, to cinemas and moviegoers, and to culture as a whole. We need cinema, we need culture. Of course, in today's times, this can only be managed with some painful cuts and with constant vigilance. The pandemic situation is dynamic, and the Berlinale is adapting to the resulting challenges. We are helping wherever we can, and I would like to thank the Federal Minister of Finance but also many dedicated colleagues in government and parliament for their support. I would also like to thank the State of Berlin and especially the health authorities and the Senator for Health for supporting the Berlinale along this route with such dedication. I would especially like to thank the Berlinale management for embarking on this journey together with us, and the Berlinale staff for their perseverance and enormous commitment, without which the Berlinale 2022 could not take place.”

The two directors of the Berlinale, Mariette Rissenbeek and Chatrian went on to say: “We are aware of the challenges posed by the unpredictable course of the pandemic. At the same time, we believe that culture plays such a fundamental role in society that we do not want to lose sight of this aspect. We would like to enable festival screenings for our audiences and filmmakers even in these times of pandemic. With our new concept, we are focusing fully on the cinematic experience and reducing the formation of groups. The key thing is to give audiences and film teams a collective experience of cinema with this changed concept, while reducing the number of face-to-face encounters in compliance with the corona regulations. Our international guests are keen to present their work on site.”

Among our favourites at MIME scheduled to premiere at this year's festival, from what has already been announced, are Iranian filmmaker Ali Asgari's Until Tomorrow and Indian director Sanjay Leela Bhansali's latest, Gangubai Kathiawadi adapted from a chapter of Hussain Zaidi's book Mafia Queens of Mumbai.

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