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66th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, 13-18 May 2020
Oberhausen festival will not be held as planned and announces alternative festival

Due to a decree issued by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs (MAGS) in North Rhine-Westphalia concerning health protection measures to be ordered throughout the state to limit the spread of coronavirus on 15 March, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen will not be able to hold its 66th edition in May as planned. So far, the festival had 112 programmes and events with over 500 films from almost 70 countries planned and was expecting around 1,000 accredited visitors. The festival cinemas of have already been officially closed. Postponing the festival is not possible for organisational and financial reasons, especially since it is not clear when events may be held in the city again.

The organisers are now working on an alternative edition to be held online. “We believe that cultural offers can and must be maintained even in a social crisis, and that we are called upon to find creative solutions to this,” says festival director Lars Henrik Gass. “We are currently examining which of our planned programmes can be offered online and which can be postponed to the coming year, but also which have to be dropped. There are technical, legal and logistical issues involved.”

Apostolos Tsalastras, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Treasurer of the City of Oberhausen, has already signalled that the Festival can count on full support from the city and that the city also intends to guarantee for possible losses of the company.

Priority in the preparation of the alternative edition will be given to the five competitions (International Competition, German Competition, NRW Competition, MuVi Award and Children’s and Youth Film Competition). “We are talking about an entire year’s worth of current short films that would otherwise be lost. For the filmmakers, it is also about prize money or, in the case of German productions, about film funding reference points”, says Gass. The festival is planning to make the competition programmes available online in May for both the general public and industry audiences, and above all for the juries, and to announce the prize winners on 18 May as planned.

However, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen also considers itself responsible for the social security of its employees. The festival employs more than 100 freelance staff in the preparation and during the festival. “We will make every effort to honour commitments made up to this point in time as far as possible. However, we appeal to the supporters and funding institutions as well as to the sponsors to develop swift responses and to compensate for the loss of fees, some of which threaten the existence of the individuals, and to honour their commitments even under changed circumstances”, says Gass.

Oberhausen, 17 March 2020

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