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Berlin: ‘Berlinale’ Gala Marks Return of Culture

Berlin is a city of culture again, after one and a half years of Corona. The Berlinale’s Summer Special had a good start, at a large open air cinema set up exclusively for the film festival. The weather should be getting a Golden Bear too.

Berlin, June 10th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — For the 71st time, the Berlinale started screening motion pictures on Wednesday. But, what commenced at a makeshift open air cinema at Berlin’s Museum Island is the festival’s first Summer Special. Because of Corona, the film festival, one of the most important ones in Europe, was split up into two parts. Not only the audience was mesmerized, but also the festival’s directors.

Accompanied by Hope

Mariette Rissenbeek stated this year’s Berlinale program was “diverse, inspiring and entertaining”. The summer mood in Berlin would inspire the audience, her colleague Carlo Chatrian said at Museum Island. “In February of 2020, the 70th edition of the Berlinale was the last big cultural event for a long time”, Minister of State Monika Grütters accurately stated. “Now, the 71st Berlinale is the first big cultural event since the pandemic.”

But, since Corona is not entirely gone, the audience is far less international. Some big stars from Germany, such as Iris Berben and Volker Schlöndorff, attended the event, but actors from Hollywood and all over the world, who usually show up on those red carpets in Berlin, were forced to stay away. Of course, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller was part of yesterday’s opening gala. He said the Berlinale Summer Special was accompanied by the hope that the worst part of the pandemic was over, that culture would be revived and that indoor cinemas would reopen.

Hygiene and Safety

In March, members of the film industry met in Berlin, for the Berlinale’s first part. The Summer Special will conclude this year’s edition. More than 100 motion pictures will be screened at 16 open air cinemas, including the one at Museum Island. Usually, there are many more. This year, 60,000 tickets for 193 screenings are being sold, less than one fifth of the usual amount. But, most importantly, the Berlinale is taking place. And it gives hope even to those who did not get any tickets, and to Berliners who never intended to be part of this year’s festival in the first place.

Because of the slumping number of new infections, the Berlin Senate had allowed the first Berlinale Summer Special to take place. Corona tests with negative results are mandatory. This is only one part of the hygiene and safety concept the organizers developed.

Bears Galore

On Sunday, the Berlinale’s Silver Bears and Golden Bears, the equivalent of the Oscars, will be awarded. The winners were announced in March. Radu Jude’s ‘Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn’ about a school teacher who faces a public scandal after a personal sex tape goes viral is the main Bear recipient. The French documentary ‘Nous’ is the winner in the festival’s ‘Encounters’ segment. After its stunning performance yesterday night, the weather should be getting an award too, for making the gala a nice experience.

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