Berlin Film Festival Set to Go Virtual for 71st Edition

The Berlin Film Festival, one of the world’s leading gathering points for the international film industry, is set to radically alter its 71st edition, Variety has learned exclusively.

The festival was originally scheduled to run as a physical event from Feb. 11-21, but rising COVID-19 infections in Germany have forced a rethink. The festival is now looking to stage a competition section in a virtual format in early March, Variety understands, with the European Film Market running as a digital event at the same time. A mini-festival with a series of onsite world premieres is being planned for early June.

A spokesperson for the Berlinale declined to comment, but said the festival will be announcing their plans later this week.

The Berlinale had been looking to run the festival as a physical event in April instead, but the government — which provides much of its funding — didn’t want to commit to the cost when it’s unclear whether COVID-19 rates will have improved by then. The Berlinale’s annual budget was €27.2 million ($33 million) in 2020.

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