Going into the 2021 Oldenburg Film Festival, festival director Torsten Neumann said there was “no Plan B,” meaning Oldenburg was determined, despite concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, to host an in-person festival.
That determination will be put to the test when the 28th Oldenburg International Film Festival kicks off Wednesday night. Neumann and his team applied for, and have received, special allowance from German authorities to host a full-capacity theater for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2021 festival. The galas will take place in the Oldenburg State Theater, a 19th-century baroque building whose main stage can accommodate close to 600 people.
Attendees will have to be either fully vaccinated, show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or proof of having recovered from a coronavirus infection. Masks will also be required for the duration of the galas. But those restrictions seem a small price to pay for the promise of a true opening night experience. Opening galas at the recent Venice and Toronto Film Festivals felt oddly muted this year, in part because capacity limitations meant the events were playing to half-empty theaters.
For its opening night, which will feature the world premiere of the German boxing movie Uppercut, starring Hardy Daniel Krueger and Luise Grossmann, Oldenburg is planning to go big. Thai composer Somtow Sucharitkul, who wrote and stars in the Thai horror film The Maestro, which will have its world premiere in Oldenburg, will present an original orchestral piece for the occasion.