The Cannes Film Festival – all set to run from May 12 to 23 – has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Europe is now the epicentre of this infection.
The festival may now take place at the end of June and the beginning of July.
The festival said late Thursday evening: “At this time of global health crisis, our thoughts go to the victims of the Covid-19 and we express our solidarity with all of those who are fighting the disease.
“Today, we have made the following decision: The Festival de Cannes cannot be held on the scheduled dates, from May 12 to 23. Several options are considered in order to preserve its running, the main one being a simple postponement, in Cannes, until the end of June-beginning of July, 2020.
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks her dog past a Palme d’Or symbol on the pavement near the Festival palace on the Croisette in Cannes where the Cannes Film Festival and the Cannes Lions take place, as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in France, March 18, 2020.
“As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our ongoing consultation with the French Government and Cannes City Hall as well as with the Festival’s Board Members, Film industry professionals and all the partners of the event”.
This move comes in the wake of several restrictions imposed by the French Government – one of them being the banning of gatherings of more than 100 people. France also joined the EU-wide lockdown preventing non-EU nationals from entering the Schengen zone.
In the past weeks, similar events were rescheduled or cancelled – The Cannes Lions Festival (on advertising, moved from April to June). MIPTV, the international television market and TV festival CanneSeries, both scheduled for the end of March, were cancelled.
Leading figures in the Cannes Film Market, which runs along with the festival, had begun organising a “virtual platform” in the assumption that a cancellation would happen.
In the history of the Cannes, there have been cancellations. Cannes, which began in 1939 had to draw its curtains two days later after screening just one movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, because Hitler’s army marched into Poland on September 3, signalling the start of World War II. Cannes could reopen only after the war in 1947, and in 1968, there was one more closure when French workers and students began a violent protest. Midway, the Festival shut shop. But since then there has not been any impediment.
Several other festivals elsewhere have also been cancelled – like Beijing, Fribourg, etc.
An unfortunate fallout of the pandemic has been the postponement of the Red Sea International Film Festival – which was to have begun on March 12 in the old, historic city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. It was to have been the inaugural edition in a Kingdom where cinema and all other forms of entertainment were banned for 40 years. It was only in 2018 that Riyadh opened its movies, building tens of theatres and infusing a sense of joy in its people. But the festival could not risk hundreds congregating, and will it be held at a later date.
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