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A film festival in Corona times – how does that work?

The Berlinale is a big test in Corona times. How is it going so far?

Berlin – Can a film festival still attract many people to the cinema in Corona times? And that in times of Netflix & Co and streaming on the sofa? Do stars still come to Berlin?

The Berlinale is a big test this year. They fought for a long time. For many, the main news was that it was taking place differently from the Leipzig Book Fair that had just been canceled. The motto was given by the new Minister of State for Culture, Claudia Roth (Greens), at the opening: “We won’t let Corona get us down.”

Lively interest from the audience

Otherwise, Potsdamer Platz looks like a hidden object, this time it’s much emptier and quieter. The festival has shrunk. 256 films have been announced, in the last year before Corona there were around 340. Masks are also compulsory when watching films. Buses are ready for corona tests. Pin the Berlinale buttons to promote vaccination. The desire to go to the cinema seems to be there: After the first few days, the Berlinale reported “lively interest”, both from the public and from the specialist guests.

Berlinale 2022 - Juliette Binoche


Actress Juliette Binoche at the Berlinale.

The cinemas can only be half full, the guests sit staggered. “The checkerboard system works well and is accepted,” the festival said. Overall, the hygiene concept is also well received. “There are only very few situations in which someone has to be reminded of the mask – mostly due to carelessness.”

It can still look homely with all editions – as in the pictures for the presentation of “Komm mit mir in das Cinema” in the Delphi Filmpalast, which is about two Berlin cinema pioneers, the couple Erika and Ulrich Gregor.

The bears will be awarded on Wednesday

In previous Berlinale years, around 330,000 tickets were sold, this year it will be significantly fewer due to the reduced number of places. The bears are awarded on Wednesday and the festival runs until Sunday. Experts will take a very close look to see whether the balance sheet indicates a renaissance in cinema.

An innovation that has advantages: the tickets are only available online, there is no need to queue. This requires a little patience at the entrance to the corona controls. The red carpet at the premieres is not as busy as usual. Hollywood is not very present. A few stars have come, such as the French Juliette Binoche and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Lifetime Achievement Award winner Isabelle Huppert cannot travel because of a positive corona test.

Berlinale 2022 - Charlotte Gainsbourg


Charlotte Gainsbourg presented her film “Les Passagers de la nuit” (The Passengers Of The Night) in Berlin.

Oscar winner Emma Thompson made one of the most acclaimed appearances: In the society comedy “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” she played a widowed teacher who rediscovered sex, the audience in the Friedrichstadt-Palast was enthusiastic. At the press conference, the 62-year-old denounces how much women are taught to hate their bodies throughout their lives. Then Thompson stands up and calls for people to simply stand in front of the mirror: naked, like she does in the film, and then not move, just accept themselves. dpa

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