- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
The 72nd Berlin International Film Festival kicked off with a surprisingly emotional opening ceremony and a call to “return to normal” after two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
Berlin rolled out the red carpet for the stars of Francois Ozon’s opening night film Peter von Kant, Denis Ménochet and newcomer Khalil Ben Gharbia. Co-star Isabelle Adjani was unable to attend Berlin, reportedly because of close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Inside, the Berlinale Palast was about two-thirds full, but organizers tried to make a show of it. Local stars Meret Becker (Babylon Berlin) and Sibel Kekilli (Head-On) helped with hosting duties, and film festival directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian gave moving speeches about their decision to hold an in-person festival despite COVID-19 concerns.
“It was so important that people could come together, that people could experience film and culture together, so we decided to press ahead,” Rissenbeek said. “We are delighted that almost all of the film teams have been able to be with us, a clear sign of the significance of being present at an event like this, filmmakers have gone to a lot of trouble to be with us this week.”
Chatrain called this year’s Berlinale “a return to reality. Maybe not as glittery, maybe not as big … but very much real.”
“Movies helped us in the last two years a lot,” he continued. “Films bring the stories we need to keep our lives going on. Films can be watched at home alone, but they can also help us in overcoming solitude. The pandemic is still running; we don’t know how long it will be with us; we know we have to be careful, wear masks. We have to behave properly, but we also think it’s maybe time to take back something we have missed.”
Chatrian then went off script and said while he couldn’t hug everyone in the audience, he would like to hug Rissenbeek. A surprised and slightly flabbergasted Rissenbeck spluttered that she hadn’t brought her mask with her on stage, but Chatrain went ahead, donning his FF2 mask and embracing his co-director.
But the most moving moment of the night came during the speech by German culture minister Claudia Roth, who personally thanked several front-line care workers in the audience the festival had specially invited. The crowd rose in a standing ovation.
In a passionate speech, Roth argued that this year’s Berlinale was sending “an important signal to the world” that “culture matters. That cinema matters.”
It was a sentiment the crowd, smaller than usual and masked, could wholeheartedly endorse.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
Arnold Schwarzenegger on Bruce Willis’ Retirement: Action Stars “Never Really Retire…They Reload”
The Little Mermaid
China Box Office: ‘Fast X’ Roars Past $100M, ‘The Little Mermaid’ Struggles to Stay Afloat
The Little Mermaid
‘The Wiz’ Star Stephanie Mills Relates Her Own Experience to Racist Backlash Toward ‘Little Mermaid”s Halle Bailey
Robert Downey Jr.
Jon Favreau Says Robert Downey Jr. Was in Talks for Another Marvel Character Before Becoming Iron Man