German Exhibition & Distribution Orgs Write To Angela Merkel Outlining Re-Opening Plan

A group of German cinema organizations have come together to pen a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government in a bid to establish a coherent strategy and timeline for re-opening venues.

Two weeks ago, a regional-level plan for exiting lockdown emerged that placed cinemas at the back of the list, prompting an angry response from cinema representatives.

Now, exhibitor reps the HDF Kino and AG Kino, distribution orgs G Verleih (Association of Independent Distributors) and the Association of Film Distributors (VDF), as well as the Federal Association of Local Film Workers (BkF) have co-signed a letter asking for cinemas to be allowed to re-open on a unified, nationwide date around Easter (April 4). They said this date would mean “no time disadvantage compared to similar industries”.

The orgs emphasize the need for “an early, concrete opening perspective in order not to let the enormous damage grow further”.

“It is time for cultural life to return to Germany, even if the pandemic has not yet been overcome,” the letter suggested. “The cinema and film industry, which has been particularly hard hit economically, urgently needs a perspective to regain a foothold.”

The reps have combined to formulate a series of parameters for the re-opening plan.

One point emphasizes that cinemas have already invested in ventilation systems and enhanced hygiene measures to make them “comparatively safe” with other leisure venues. “it would hardly be understandable and also extremely questionable from a legal point of view if retail and catering were allowed to open in front of the cultural sites,” the letter said.

They also stressed that a joined-up, nationwide strategy is needed. One of the major sticking points in reaction to the previous government plan – which came from the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein – was that it had only been drawn up by that one authority.

“As a nationally functioning market, it is imperative for the cinema and film industry not to irrevocably couple the reopening to a regional seven-day incidence value or R-value,” said the letter. “Only a nationwide uniformly scheduled opening strategy will offer the possibility of actually being able to present new films to the guests.”

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