cannes 2020

The Cannes Film Festival is in limbo at the moment, and it’s becoming more and more likely that the fest just isn’t going to happen this year. The Cannes organizers previously announced that the fest’s original dates of May 12 through 23 were canceled, but there was still some hope the fest could be held at a later date – preferably late June or early July.

However, France’s coronavirus lockdown has just been extended, which has effectively killed that idea. However, the folks involved with Cannes are still not ready to give up the ghost just yet, and are hoping to stage some form of the festival this year. Meanwhile, Germany’s Munich Film Festival, which was scheduled for late June, has been canceled entirely.

I was all set, and excited, to attend the Cannes Film Festival for the first time this year. And then the coronavirus showed up and said, “LOL, no.” The festival was supposed to take place from May 12 through May 23, but as the pandemic grew more and more serious, Cannes realized that just wasn’t going to work. They put out a statement last month stating:

Due to the health crisis and the development of the French and international situation, the Festival de Cannes will no longer be able to take place on the dates planned, from May 12 to 23.

And while that technically sounds like a cancelation, Cannes, perhaps stubbornly, still held onto some sort of hope. Their back-up plan was to perhaps push the festival to either the end of June, or the beginning of July. But President Emmanuel Macron just announced that the lockdown in France has been extended, which now has the Cannes organizers realizing they’re alternate dates won’t work. They released the following statement:

“Following the French President’ statement, on Monday, April 13th, we acknowledged that the postponement of the 73rd International Cannes Film Festival, initially considered for the end of June to the beginning of July, is no longer an option.”

They added that it’s becoming more and more unlikely that the “Festival de Cannes could be held this year in its original form.” However, they’re still not giving up:

“Nevertheless, since yesterday evening we have started many discussions with professionals, in France and abroad. They agree that the Festival de Cannes, an essential pillar for the film industry, must explore all contingencies allowing to support the year of cinema by making Cannes 2020 real, in a way or another.

When the health crisis, whose resolution remains the priority of all, passes, we will have to reiterate and prove the importance of cinema and the role that its work, artists, professionals, film theatres and their audiences, play in our lives. This is how the Festival de Cannes, the Marché du Film and the parallel sections (Semaine de la Critique, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, ACID), intend to contribute. We are committed to it and we would like to thank everyone who is by our side, public officials (Cannes’ City Hall, Ministry of Culture, the CNC), industry members as well as our partners.

Each and everyone knows that many uncertainties are still reigning over the international health situation. We hope to be able to communicate promptly regarding the shapes that this Cannes 2020 will take.”

I’m not sure what Cannes is hoping for here. The organizers have already gone on record saying they will not accept a digital festival. But the prospect of a digital fest is a question facing other film festivals as well. SXSW is attempting to screen their titles digitally via Amazon. TIFF has said they’re considering a digital fest. But one festival that decided to just outright cancel is Germany’s Munich Film Festival.

That festival was set to happen June 25 to July 4. Per Variety, that festival’s organizers were against postponing to a later date, but they did consider the possibility of a digital fest. However, they eventually ruled against it. “We feel there are very limiting factors in going digital when you are a festival that plays a lot of films and tracks a lot of industry audiences,” said Christoph Gröner, artistic director at Munich.

As for Cannes, there’s really nothing to be done right now except wait and see what the organizers come up with. And look forward to things getting back to normal next year. Maybe.

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