A potentially damaging head-to-head clash between the Rotterdam and Berlin film festivals over the dates for their 2004 editions has been nipped in the bud.

Following Berlin's announcement this week that its 54th festival will be held from Feb 5-15 (the earliest start for the German festival since its move to February in 1978), Rotterdam's organisers have now decided to bring the 33rd festival forward by a week.

Speaking to Screendaily from New York, Rotterdam festival director Simon Field confirmed that the edition would now run from Jan 21 to Feb 1.

Originally, Rotterdam had announced on its website that the 2004 dates would be Jan 28-Feb 8, which would have meant an overlap of four days with the Berlinale. Furthermore, participants at the festival's CineMart would have been caught in the dilemma of the co-production market's final day coinciding with the Berlinale's first day (Feb 5).

According to industry insiders, Rotterdam's later dates would also have possibly had a negative "knock-on" effect for the plans of those who traditionally make visits to the Hungarian Film Weeks or to festivals in Goteborg, Clermont-Ferrand or Tehran after Rotterdam and before Berlin.

On the other hand, Rotterdam's traditional overlapping of dates with Sundance Film Festival (Jan 15-25) is not seen as being so problematic. Many industry delegates are used to leaving Sundance earlier to make the trip to Rotterdam, while many of the CineMart participants do not attend Sundance in any case.

Meanwhile, Berlin's choice of dates will give industry executives a full ten days gap before the American Film Market (AFM), which is scheduled to be held from Feb 25 to Mar 3.

This year, in comparison, the Berlinale ended on Feb 16 with the AFM cranking up just three days later on Feb 19.

The Academy Awards have also been brought forward next year, with nominations announced on Jan 20 and the Oscar ceremony itself taking place on Feb 29.