Experiencing cinema under the stars

Berlinale Summer Special opens Experiencing cinema under the stars

Berlin is launching the first large-scale cultural event following long months of lockdown – the Berlinale Summer Special. For twelve days film fans will be able to experience the diversity of international cinema in 16 open-air cinemas.

Simulation of the open-air cinema on the Museum Island

Cinematography meets World Heritage Site – Berlin’s historic Museum Island is to become an open-air cinema for twelve days.

Photo: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

“The Berlinale Summer Special 2021 marks the long-awaited revival of cultural life in Berlin and in Germany,” declared Minister of State Monika Grütters, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, at the opening ceremony. 

The largest post-lockdown film festival anywhere in the world is not only fanning the flames of the audiences’ passion for the cinema, she continued. As a promising opening act in the cultural summer, the Berlinale is also a sign of hope for other branches, because it demonstrates that it is possible to re-launch cultural life under pandemic conditions, said Monika Grütters.

Cinematography meets World Heritage Site

The opening gala was an open-air event, held on Berlin’s historic Museum Island, where an open-air cinema has been set up purely for the film festival. Alongside the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller welcomed guests along with the Berlinale management team Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian. The presenter Hadnet Tesfai guided the audience through the event. 

16 open-air cinemas for the Summer Special

Between now and 20 June, film enthusiasts will be able to discover this year’s entries to the film festival in 16 different open-air cinemas in Berlin. The Summer Special is a pilot project with mandatory testing and a hygiene and safety concept produced specifically for the festival. In spite of the pandemic, numerous international film-makers will be in Berlin for the premieres. 

The central venue is the open-air cinema on the Museum Island, which will show competition entries every evening. The central award ceremony will also be staged there on 13 June. But Berlinale films will also be screened in less central parts of Berlin, from Biesdorf to Zehlendorf. A total of 126 productions from 56 nations can be seen on the big screen during the 12 days of the festival.

A special edition of the festival

The Summer Special takes the 2021 Berlinale into the second round. As a result of the pandemic, this year’s festival was split. In the first week of March an industry online event was held. The European Film Market (EFM), one of the world’s major showcases, attracted particular attention. Parallel to this, the international jury viewed the 15 entries to the competition and selected the winners of this year’s Bears. 

The Golden Bear was won by Romanian Director Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn. The Grand Jury Prize went to the Japanese Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. The Jury Prize and one of the two actor awards went to Germany. At the end of the first stage of the festival, the Berlinale Shorts, Encounters and Generation Juries also announced their prize-winners. The prizes will be awarded during the Summer Special.

Since the audience has had to wait so long for the Berlinale this year, the festival will feature an Audience Award for films in the competition. In the days ahead, the audiences at the venues will be able to vote for their favourites. The prize will then be awarded for the first time on 20 June.

Berlin International Film Festival is one of the most important in the world, and the largest film festival that is open to the public. The German Federal Government pays about one third of the costs of staging the festival – 10.3 million euros. In 2021 it is also shouldering the considerable additional costs involved in staging the Summer Special, with a two-digit million sum coming from the NEUSTART KULTUR programme.