The European Film Awards have bowed to the inevitable. Amid an alarming rise in COVID-19 infections in Germany, the European Film Academy said Wednesday that it has canceled the planned in-person ceremony for this year’s EFAs.
Like last year’s honors, the 34th European Film Awards will be an online-only affair, preproduced and streamed live from Berlin on Saturday, Dec. 11.
The 34th edition of the European Film Awards will be hosted by German actress, moderator and writer Annabelle Mandeng from a studio located in the monumental Arena Berlin, where this year’s ceremony was always planned to take place. Several presenters of the different award categories will take part from the studio, with others joining via video link.
“As much as we regret this decision, at the moment what counts most to us is to prevent people from traveling across Europe and heightening the risk for everybody — this concerns foremost both nominees and winners, but also includes our team in Berlin,” said European Film Academy director Matthijs Wouter Knol in announcing the decision Wednesday. “We trust that the available technology and a massive effort from everybody involved, combined with our collective experience with all kinds of online gatherings, will make it possible to highlight the exceptional films and achievements nominated for this year’s European Film Awards. In difficult times like these, we especially hope that the Awards Ceremony will bring together the European film community and reach as many film-loving members of the public as possible through streaming.”
The EFAs had already scaled back their ambitions for this year’s event, restricting 2021 attendees to EFA nominees and award recipients. Pre-pandemic, the EFA audience included hundreds of academy members, partners and guests from the European film industry, as well as members of the international media.
But even that plan looked untenable as infection rates shot up in Germany over the past few weeks and the local government moved to introduce new restrictions to stem the fourth wave of the pandemic. According to official figures from the Robert Koch Institute, the national center for disease control, there were 45,750 new confirmed COVID-19 infections registered in Germany on Monday, Nov. 29, and 388 confirmed deaths due to COVID. There are also growing fears that things could get worse should the new Omicron variant of the virus, first detected in southern Africa last week, quickly spreads to Europe. There have already been a handful of confirmed omicron cases in Germany and the European Union has temporarily blocked flights from southern Africa.
This year’s EFA nominees include many Oscar contenders, including Paolo Sorrentino’s Italian drama The Hand of God, nominated for best film, best director and best screenplay; Julia Ducournau’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner Titane, which is up for EFAs for best film, best director and the best acting categories for stars Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon; and Flee, an animated documentary from Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, up for best documentary, best animated film and for the European University Film Award.
You can follow the live stream of the 34th European Film Awards online here from 7 p.m. CT, 1 p.m. ET and 10 a.m. PT on Saturday, Dec. 11.