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Berlin film fest says safe to hold June outdoor edition

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Bear trophies for the upcoming 71st Berlinale film festival are displayed during a media tour at the Noack foundry in Berlin. It will now press on with an exclusively outdoor festival for the general public June 9-20. AFP

Berlin film fest says safe to hold June outdoor edition

Organisers of the Berlin film festival said Monday that pandemic conditions in the German capital had improved enough for them to hold a planned outdoor edition in June.

The coronavirus outbreak forced the Berlinale, one of Europe's top cinema showcases, to push back its usual February event and split it into two parts.

It held an all-online edition for critics and industry buyers in March and will now press on with an exclusively outdoor festival for the general public June 9-20.

"The Berlinale is pleased to be able to give audiences the enjoyment of an open-air cinema experience at 16 venues in total at the Summer Special," it said in a statement.

It said Berlin's falling infection rate "as well as positive signals by government offices" had led to the decision.

"Audiences will be getting a very special, collective festival experience -- something we've all been missing for such a long time," organisers said.

The June edition "is geared towards re-igniting the desire to go to the cinema, and to contributing to the revival of cultural activities with an audience."

The programme will be made up primarily of movies shown online at the March edition, including the winners of its Golden and Silver Bear prizes, which will be awarded at a gala ceremony on June 13.

Existing open-air cinemas throughout the city as well as a specially created site on Berlin's historic Museum Island will serve as venues and comply with pandemic hygiene rules.

Ticket sales will begin on May 27.

The global coronavirus outbreak has dealt a body blow to the cinema industry and created major complications for film distribution and production for over a year.

Cannes, the world's top film festival, usually held in May, has been postponed to July 6-17 this year due to the pandemic and was cancelled outright last year.

The Berlinale, now in its 71st year, awarded its Golden Bear top prize in March to the biting social satire "Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn" by Romania's Radu Jude.

The city of Berlin on Monday reported a seven-day coronavirus incidence just over the 100-mark, meaning cinemas, restaurants and other facilities remain closed.

However, officials are hopeful that an accelerating vaccination campaign and tightened lockdown measures will bring infections down soon, allowing for an at least partial reopening.

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