On Thursday, the 72nd Berlin Film Festival kicked off with the premiere of Francois Ozon’s PETER VON KANT. Berlin’s organizers decided to go forward with in-person screenings in the face of the Omicron challenge, which had forced other recent festivals, most notably Sundance, to cancel in-person events.
Berlin is pressing ahead under modified rules, which include the requirement for festivalgoers to show proof of vaccination, a maximum of 50% seating capacity at all screenings, and canceling traditional parties and ceremonies.
While some members of the German press have questioned the wisdom of holding this year’s event, others have pointed to the resilience of the German public health system to manage the Omicron wave and the importance of movies being experienced and discussed in person. Berlinale’s Managing Director Mariette Rissenbeek said, “It was so important that people could come together, that people could experience film and culture together, so we decided to press ahead.”.
Berlin is distinguished among the major international festivals for elevating non-commercial titles such as last year’s Golden Bear winner, the Romanian comedy-drama BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONEY PORN. This year’s lineup is stocked with horror films from auteurs including Dario Argento, Peter Strickland, and Ursula Meier. With M. Night Shyamalan acting as the 2022 President of the Competition Jury, the chances are good that horror titles will be well-rewarded.
See also: Berlin 2022: The 10 Most Exciting Films at This Year’s Festival (IndieWire)