Cannes 2020 Is Definitely Canceled, But The Official Film Selection Will Still Be Announced

Despite the hopes and dreams of those involved, this year's Cannes Film Festival is still canceled (or canneselled, if you will). The fest had been hoping to simply delay the event to a later date this summer, but at long last, festival director Thierry Frémaux is admitting defeat. However, the book isn't closed yet on Cannes 2020. While there will be no festival – not even a digital version – Fremaux says there are still plans to announce the Cannes 2020 Official Selection this June.

I was accredited to attend Cannes for the first time ever this year, and I was pretty darn excited. And then, of course, everything fell apart. The coronavirus made not just Cannes, but practically any upcoming film festival, seem all but impossible. Despite how obvious this all was, Cannes refused to give in – at least at first. Instead, the festival announced they would be delaying things for a few months, from May to maybe June or July. But that was just a dream, and that dream is dead now.

Speaking with Screen Daily, festival director Thierry Frémaux has admitted he's seen the writing on the wall, and that there is zero chance of Cannes 2020 going forward as hoped. "Under the circumstances, a physical edition of Cannes 2020 is hard to envisage, so we'll have to do something different," Frémaux said. "Cannes could only have taken place as it normally does with the stars, the public, the press and the professionals. It wasn't possible for health reasons, so it wasn't possible at all. The festival should always show its best face."

The festival director also once again shot down any hopes of a digital festival:

"I'd like someone to explain to me what a digital festival is exactly? What is its audience? How is it organised in terms of time and space? Would the directors and producers of the films be in agreement? How do you stop piracy? Who would be the privileged few to see it? What would the financial conditions be? Would the films shown come out in theatres? Parts of the media like to talk about a digital festival but there have been no serious investigations into what that means exactly, and what the end result would be. It would only really work for films destined only for release on the internet rather than those films with a hope of getting into theatres. And that is far from Cannes."

As for the "something different" plan Frémaux mentioned above, it involves working with other festivals (assuming those other festivals still happen this year):

"An exceptional situation needs an exceptional response. Numerous festivals invited us and it's a touching gesture in this context where unity and solidarity are essential. With the Cannes 2020 label and the online Marché du Film, a 'Cannes hors les murs' [outside the walls] will be the third plank of our redeployment this autumn. We'll go to Toronto, Deauville, Angoulême, San Sebastian, New York, Busan in Korea and even the Lumière festival in Lyon, which is a festival of contemporary and classical cinema, which will host numerous films. And with Venice, we want to go even further and present films together."

And that's not all. Frémaux also added that while Cannes 2020 isn't happening, the Official Selection will still be announced:

"We're working on the list of films that should have been part of this 73rd edition. We'll announce the list at the beginning of June. All the films are scheduled to be released theatrically between now and spring 2021. The selection probably won't be under the usual structured format that we all know with the Competition, Un Certain Regard and Out of Competition sections. It would have been ridiculous to behave as if nothing had happened. But in our heart of hearts what we want to do is promote the films that we saw and loved."

While this might seem odd, it makes a certain amount of sense, at least from a prestige perspective. Sure, these movies won't be able to actually screen at Cannes this year, but the people behind them will be able to lay claim to having been selected, and that still counts for something.