Berlin Boosts Budget for Film Festival

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By Joshephira Honey

The city of Berlin has pledged to boost the budget for the Berlinale, helping to counter major cuts that have shaken up the organization of one of Europe’s largest film festivals.

At a media event held by the CDU, one of the ruling parties in Berlin’s coalition government, on Tuesday, the city pledged to support the Berlinale with $2.2 million (€2 million) for the next two years, starting in 2024. The funds should help fill the budget hole left by cuts made by Germany’s federal government.

The government cuts, unveiled this summer, have forced the Berlinale to undertake major belt-tightening measures, trimming the number of films it screens to around 200 (from 287 this year) and dropping entire sections, including the Perspektive Deutsches Kino sidebar on new German cinema, and the Berlinale Series section for high-end TV series. The cutbacks have been cited as a reason for the exit of Berlinale co-directors Carlo Chatrian and Mariëtte Rissenbeek, both of whom are stepping down after next year’s fest.

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The German Federal Culture Ministry is still the main financier of the Berlinale, bankrolling the event to the tune of $11.8 million (€10.7 million) annually. It topped that up by an additional $2.4 million (€2.2 million) in 2022 and 2023 to help cover rising costs, but that funding runs out this year.

It is unclear where the new funds will come from, but it seems they will initially be financed through the state lottery before becoming part of the regular Berlin budget in the future. Berlin’s Governing Mayor Kai Wegner has been vocal in his support of the Berlinale and has backed broader funding for investment in the cinema infrastructure in the German capital. Berlin has earmarked $5.5 million (€5 million) for broader support of the city’s theaters, starting with a $1.1 million (€1 million) investment in 2024.

The 74th Berlin International Film Festival runs Feb. 15-25, 2024.

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