Berlinale 2021 – All New Format, Just as Exciting

(Berlin, Germany, February 15, 2021) Mariette Rissenbeek, Executive Director of the Berlin International Film Festival, and Artistic Director, Carlo Chatrian, welcome us to another year at the Berlinale (the 71st), explain the new virtual format for the Fest and present the films that have been selected for this year’s Competition and Berlinale Special sections.

The video is in German and English. Following is the translation of the introductory statement from Ms. Risssenbeek:

I’m glad to be standing here today – on the day when we had originally planned to open the 71st Berlinale. At the end of last year, it certainly didn’t look like I’d be able to do so.

First, we had to come to terms with the fact that a normal Berlinale would probably not be possible in February 2021. But, at the same time, we knew that, after many months of the pandemic and the closure of the cinemas, a vast number of filmmakers and dedicated people in the industry were urgently looking for a platform where they could continue their work.

This was a major reason why it wasn’t an option for us simply to cancel this year’s festival. Instead, we pondered the best possible solutions. And now, with the 2021 Berlinale, we are breaking new ground: something like this has never taken place before. With the Industry Event in March, we are holding a digital edition of the film market, the EFM, which will provide a platform for the international film industry. Alongside the film market, Berlinale Talents, the Co-Production Market and the World Cinema Fund will all be making their programmes available to film industry professionals in a digital format. And, in the cases of Berlinale Talents and the WCF, interested members of the general public can also participate in the publicly accessible online events in March.

The EFM will give the rights holders of the festival films the opportunity to show their films to buyers and industry representatives. The positioning of the EFM at the beginning of the year has always been the starting point for the film industry. This is another reason why we’ve decided that the EFM should take place online at around the usual date and thus support the many very different films vying for visibility.

It is a great achievement that the EFM team completely rethought their format in such a short time and, alongside the online market screenings, have also developed online versions of the stands and conferences.

I’m very excited to see how this first digital edition of the EFM will go. I’m expecting to see not only familiar faces but also, perhaps, some new participants who cannot usually travel to Berlin. I wish the EFM team and everyone who has been working to bring about this new format the greatest of success.

Then, in June, we will finally fly the flag for cinema and present the festival films to Berlin audiences in our Summer Special. We want to hold a big celebration for film fans, enchant the audience with cinema once again and offer them a feast of the senses. And we would like to do all this in partnership with Berlin cinemas and open-air cinemas so that, together with the cinema operators, we can welcome audiences back, meet the filmmakers and, thus, help to ensure that the films and their creators once again generate discussions, reflections and inspirations.

The last few months have been a long haul for a lot of people. With our digital edition for the film industry and the press in March, we want to offer a little taste of the celebrations in June when we can all meet again in the cinema – in compliance with the hygiene and social distancing rules that will apply at that time – to exchange ideas and enjoy the films on the big screen.

I will now hand over to Carlo Chatrian who is going to talk about the film selection.

Editors Note: We will report on the selection of films in further details shortly.

For more information, please see the official website of the 71st Berlinale.