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Febiofest festivals disrupted in Prague and Bratislava in the wake of coronavirus outbreak

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- The epidemic continues to slam shut the gates of various cultural events in the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Febiofest festivals disrupted in Prague and Bratislava in the wake of coronavirus outbreak

Just as one of the largest film festivals in the Czech Republic, the Prague International Film Festival – Febiofest, was getting ready to fling open its doors on 19 March and welcome a host of international guests, such as Woody Harrelson, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Atom Egoyan and Oren Moverman, the Czech government issued a decree banning all events with attendance levels of more than 100 people from 10 March onwards. The organisers have thus postponed the event, and replacement dates have already been set. The 27th Prague International Film Festival – Febiofest will therefore take place on 18-25 September 2020, in Prague.

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The decision is a blow to the 27th edition of the Prague International Film Festival – Febiofest, which was supposed to be the first edition under the new leadership of Nikolaj Nikitin and Marta Švecová Lamperová as artistic directors, with former Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick as programme consultant. The festival has undergone a makeover, adding new programming sections, two competitions and a new venue. The programming structure has been divided into 14 sections, including Panorama, Generation, Queer Now, Eastern Delights, Girls in Film, TV Now, a new genre and midnight-film section (Planet Dark) and a Max Ophüls retrospective prepared especially for the 27th edition.

The situation is the same on the other side of the border: a similar gathering set to be held in the Slovakian capital city, Febiofest Bratislava, has had to announce the cancellation of its upcoming edition, which had been planned to start on Wednesday 11 March, following the decree by the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic to ban all sporting, cultural and public events for the next 14 days. The festival organisers are contemplating a new date, and a final decision on whether or not the gathering will be held on a new date this year will be announced in the coming months. Meanwhile, the Lumière cinema, the festival’s main venue, is shut until the end of March.

Febiofest artistic directors Nikolaj Nikitin and Marta Švecová Lamperová had this to say about recent developments: “Of course, we had already been aware for some time of the risk involved in hosting a public event in these times of spreading COVID-19. So we have been working on alternative scenarios for a while and have been in touch with our guests and rights holders constantly about the current situation. But after yesterday’s decree by the Czech government, we had no other option but to postpone the festival to a later date, so as not to endanger our international guests or national audiences.

“It's important to note that the 27th edition of Febiofest is not cancelled, but postponed. We’re checking with all of the parties involved about possible new dates, which will most likely be in the second half of September 2020. Then, next year’s 28th edition will run from 18-26 March 2021, as expected. We are in touch with all of our guests and hope the new dates will work with their schedules. We will try to secure our original film programme – especially the main competition, our new competition for comedies, and our tribute and retrospective sections. We are already in contact with the rights holders, plus the directors, producers and actors who have been invited to represent the films, and we will announce our new dates shortly. We are sorry for any inconvenience. We are very grateful to all of our partners and the parties involved for their support, and are sure that Prague audiences will get to enjoy the best of world cinema at Febiofest’s upcoming 27th edition."

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