Film festivals – the most important market and audience access points for film culture

Tomorrow, the Sundance Film Festival, the world’s most important platform for independent film, kicks off, and with it the most significant serve for some 70 productions in search of buyers (see: Chris Lindahl/ Indiewire). For long, every conceivable precaution had been taken – including a dedicated vaccination station – to implement an onsite festival despite the pandemic situation. But due to the Omicron spread in the U.S., this was not to succeed in Park City any more than for the European Annual Kick-Off Film Festival in Rotterdam. The International Film Festival Rotterdam had already declared the move to the digital space and the restriction of the program as unavoidable just before the Christmas vacation.

As announced today at the press confeence of the Berlinale, despite the rising incidences, they had chosen a strategy that focuses on films, screenings and audiences. A concept based on equalization and a decentralization of screenings and, despite a significant increase in submissions, a program reduction to 256 feature-length and short films (340 films in 2020). In 2020, the Berlinale was the last film festival before Covid went global, and in 2021 the audience events were moved to the summer. We can be curious whether the Berlinale will succeed in defying Omicron as Berlin’s most important cultural event.