The Berlinale’s online European Film Market officially fired up its platform for business on Thursday (February 10) although many sellers have been locked in Zoom meetings since last week.
From February 10-17, the market hosts virtual screenings for more than 750 market and festival titles as well as an online conference programme bannered “Shaping Change”, revolving around the core themes of “future”, “diversity and inclusion” and “sustainable development”.
A handful of sales companies, mainly those with films in Official Selection, will still make their way to Berlin over the coming days, and around 100 European distributors will also make the trip.
The market’s traditional home of the Gropius Bau, which would normally be packed to the brim with stands and participants, looks strangely empty as the market kicks off.
In the absence of the market, the historic exhibition venue is hosting an exhibition by artist and “visual activist” Zanele Muholi documenting the life of LGBTQIA+ communities since the early 2000s in South Africa and beyond.
EFM stalwarts who have travelled to Berlin can still meet in the Gropius Bau thanks to an initiative by the festival offering meeting spaces for industry professionals looking for a place to meet face-to-face.
Other key meeting places will be the foyers of the traditional hubs of the Hyatt, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton although there are no official sales company offices in any of these hotels. French export body Unifrance, for example, is basing itself out of Marriott.
A handful of sales companies have also set up their own offices privately. The Match Factory, which handles Competition titles Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush by Andreas Dresen and A E I O U - A Quick Alphabet of Love by Nicolette Krebitz, has booked the Posh Bar on Potsdamer Platz.
Wild Bunch International, which is handling Golden Bear contenders Both Sides Of The Blade (aka Fire) and Before, Now & Then as well as Special Gala selections Dario Argento’s Dark Glasses and Incredible But True, has set up shop in a gallery space on Leipziger Street.
Playtime, which handles Francois Ozon’s opening film and Golden Bear contender Peter von Kant as well as Rithy Panh’s competition title Everything Will Be OK, and sister companies Films Boutique, Be For Films and Film Constellation have privatised the Fitzroy bar and nightclub overlooking Berlin’s Spree River.