A Letter to Berlinale

Questions on the Organisation of the Berlinale 2022
Verband der deutschen Filmkritik – Association of German Film Critics

February 4, 2022

In the last few days we have received questions about the concrete organisation of the Berlinale 2022, and we have also received criticism of the Berlinale’s procedure of not providing screening links for the press. Last week, the German Film Critics’ Association (Verband der deutschen Filmkritik) therefore addressed an enquiry to the Berlinale press department about the organisation and working conditions, whose answers we summarise here.

In principle, the majority of the board welcomes the fact that the Berlinale 2022 will take place in physical format. The Covid measures taken also seem sensible to us, such as the daily tests also of people with a booster vaccine and the online reservations.

This year, the Berlinale expects 1670 press accredited (2019: 3500). According to press spokeswoman Frauke Greiner, the seating quotas for the press screenings have been adjusted proportionally to the hall capacities, so that the “chance of getting a seat is at least as high as before the pandemic”. As a writing space, the Berlinale has set up a “Press WiFi Lounge” in the basement of the Berlinale Palast. There are about 45 workstations with WiFi access available, as well as a counter with press booklets (if available) on the films. You can only work on your own laptop.

According to the Berlinale, it is possible to cancel tickets that have already been booked up to 45 minutes before the start of the film in order to release them for the press. Conversely, this means that, depending on the number of cancellations, last-minute tickets should be available online again 45 minutes before the start of the film.

Regarding the organisation of admissions, the Berlinale writes that the “dynamic of speedy cinema admissions has been taken into account in the planning”. Nevertheless, it could “not categorically” be ruled out that there might be “unforeseeable delays”.

Unfortunately, our enquiry about the handling of the provision that if reservations are cancelled more than twice, the booking possibility for further tickets can be withdrawn, remained without an answer. In the Board, we understand the provision as a measure to avoid that reserved tickets are not used without necessity. Nevertheless, it is to be feared that irregularities in the process can quickly lead to unused tickets and booking opportunities being withdrawn through no fault of our own. We have renewed our request for goodwill in the implementation.

In response to our request to the Berlinale to grant accredited journalists online access to Berlinale films in the special circumstances of the Corona year 2022, as far as possible, for example to the streams that are already available to trade visitors in the European Film Market, the Berlinale refers to a “different pandemic situation than in 2021”, in which cinemas were closed until early summer and “the lockdown affected all areas of society”. “Only because of the exceptional situation” was it an option for filmmakers and rights holders to agree to the online screening in 2021. “Many films would not have agreed to an online screening [in 2022] or would not have had the right to be offered online due to their production conditions. For online market screenings, the “rights holder determines which market participants or groups of participants” have access to the screenings.

Finally, the Berlinale justifies its decision for a presence festival in 2022 with the fact that “cinema culture benefits greatly from the shared cinema experience. This is also in line with the wishes of the filmmakers and rights holders”.

Anyone who decides not to attend the Berlinale due to the pandemic situation or for other reasons can still cancel their accreditation up until the moment the online ticket shop goes live and receive a refund of the fee already paid. Cancellation is possible up to and including 7 February 2022.

In case of doubt, we recommend our members to request screening links from the rights holders such as distribution, production and World Sales – and otherwise to give the Berlinale a chance for a great cinema experience.

We wish everyone a good festival!

German Film Critics’ Association
(Verband der deutschen Filmkritik)
buero@vdfk.de, www.vdfk.de
Tel +49 30 440 334 88 / +49 179 130 42 93