As the Berlinale and European Film Market organisers continue to plan for physical events in February 2022, some German distributors are rearranging their schedules in reaction to further measures being brought in nationally to help curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Constantin Film has postponed the release of three of its major upcoming titles: Caveman, starring Moritz Bleibtreu, due to open on December 23; Sönke Wortmann’s comedy sequel Der Nachname on January 20, and Anika Decker’s romantic Liebesdings, with Elyas M’Barek and Lucie Heinze, on February 17. None have yet been given new release dates.
Arthouse distributor Neue Visionen has pushed back the release of two French films Pascal Elbé’s On Est Fait Pour S’entendre, and Pascal Audiard’s Les Olympiades, originally set to open on January 20 and February 3 February respectively.
And Warner Bros has postponed the release of actress Karoline Herfurth’s third film as director, the comedy Wunderschön, which had been planned to open on December 16, to an as yet undetermined date in the future, while the family film Hui Buh Und Das Hexenschloß has moved from January 27 to a summer slot, July 28, 2022.
What is the ‘2G’ rule?
From December 13, all Germany’s cinemas must now abide by the ’2G’ rule that requires cinema audiences to be fully vaccinated or recently recovered from infection. A negative test is not enough. This rule had already been adopted by many of the German states, including Berlin, so is not a major shift in practice for most cinemas.
However, many in the industry now have their eye on the possible introduction of even stricter ’2Gplus’ measures which could involve proof of a negative test even for vaccinated people, the mandatory wearing of masks, and social distancing thus limited capacity,
Christian Bräuer, chairman of the arthouse trade association AG Kino and president of CICAE, said that while the introduction of 2G posed major challenges for exhibitors, it did give them planning security. But he pointed to a logistical challenge of testing all potential cinemagoers and worried that in areas where testing facilities were not widespread, people just wouldn’t go to the cinema.
“We are concerned about the 2Gplus rule and the associated additional testing obligation, which in the case of cinemas is tantamount to a lockdown through the back door,” he suggested. “In many regions and even in larger cities, there are no testing opportunities or they are severely restricted. We appeal to all the Länder to apply the 2Gplus regulation for cinemas only in extreme emergencies and to interpret it in such a way that the test can also be replaced by a mask requirement or distance regulation, as is planned in Berlin, for example.”
Berlinale, EFM and a cancelled party
The Berlinale and the EFM have reiterated their aim to hold an in-person physical event in February 2022. In a statement the festival said: “There are no plans to postpone the festival or market to a later date or to have it take place virtually… We want to avoid the industry developing misconceptions about the shape of the Berlinale 2022.”
Meanwhile, the EFM’s latest newsletter explained the festival and market are still being planned under the 2G rule where entry will only be possible for vaccinated or recovered participants.
The market added that it is “keeping an eye on the possible expansion to 2Gplus. We will examine what exactly 2Gplus means (masks, social distancing, tests, capacities) in terms of events/situations. We will decide and implement which option to use in close coordination with the authorities. The health of all visitors and staff and the resulting measures to contain the epidemic are of course the top priority in our planning. All further developments will be observed closely.“
The Berlinale and EFM has covered itself for any eventualities “due to the ongoing, highly dynamic epidemic situation” by declaring that the rules for participation might change at any time and that “the Berlinale may restrict or entirely remove access to festival and/or EFM events,” and “in-person events in Berlin may be partly or entirely cancelled”.
One of the Berlinale’s main social events – the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg reception in the Ritz Carlton on the Saturday evening of the festival’s first weekend – has been cancelled for the second year in a row.
Medienboard’s joint managing directors Kirsten Niehuus und Helge Jürgens said the move was taken “with a heavy heart…. as we don’t think there will be a happy, relaxed party situation in February”.
They plan to reschedule for summer 2022.