Berlin.

Shortly before the start of the Berlinale, the festival jury stressed the importance of the big screen and cinema as a whole.

“Cinema is so important,” said jury president M. Night Shyamalan, best known for directing The Sixth Sense. “We are all sitting here because we love cinema very much,” said German filmmaker Anne Zohra Berrached (“24 Weeks”). Franco-Tunisian producer Saïd Ben Saïd compared the cinematic experience during the press conference to a religion: “We are back in the church”.

Hitchcock and Christiane F.

When asked about the training films, actress Connie Nielsen named the German drug drama “Christiane F.” (1981): It shocked her at the time, but showed her that film is more than Marilyn Monroe or Sunday TV movies in her Danish homeland. Berrached recalled how she first experienced the big screen as a child: with Alfred Hitchock’s “Window to the Courtyard.”

Other members of the jury are: author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe), who received the German Book Peace Prize in the fall, Oscar-nominated director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Japan, “Drive my Car”) and filmmaker Karim Aïnouz (Brazil/Algeria, “Central Airport THF”).

At the festival, the jury decides the winners of the contest bear trophies. Due to the corona pandemic, the Berlinale will take place this year in attendance, but in a smaller form.

Start with François Ozon

On the program, the new film by French director François Ozon: Isabelle Adjani and Denis Ménochet and German actress Hanna Schygulla play in “Peter von Kant”.

According to the festival, the film is a free interpretation of the work of German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982). In “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” (1972), he tells the story of a fashion designer who treats her secretary with contempt and falls in love with a female model – Hanna Schygulla once starred there.

Presence festival with Corona requirements

Given the infection situation in Germany, there was a long fight over whether the Berlinale could take place. Conditions should now apply to go to the cinema. Corona test buses are available at Potsdamer Platz. About 800 guests were expected for the opening ceremony (7:30 p.m.). The guest list included actresses such as Iris Berben, Maria Furtwängler and Heike Makatsch, actor Burghart Klaußner and Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser.

In cinemas, only one in two seats should be occupied during the festival. The 2G plus rule also applies: only people who have already been vaccinated against the corona virus or recovered from an infection have access. Anyone who has not yet received a booster shot also needs a test. Masks are compulsory in the cinema. Tickets are only available online this time to avoid queues.

The prizes will be awarded earlier this year than usual – the judging panel is expected to announce its decisions on Wednesday February 16. After that, several public days are planned.

In the years before the pandemic, more than 300,000 Berlinale tickets were regularly sold, but this time it is likely to be less given the reduced seating capacity. The 72nd International Film Festival ends on February 20. (dpa)