In a statement released yesterday, the Cannes Film Festival has announced its postponement due to coronavirus concern. The decision follows the lead of other film festivals and large-scale events, with Cannes being one of the last of these events to try and hold out amid the pandemic.
The prestigious French film festival was slated to take place from May 12-23, and event organizers are already looking at pushing the date back until late June or early July.
“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,” the festival said in a statement.
“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.”
“In the meantime, the Festival de Cannes lends its vocal support to all of those who firmly call on everyone to respect the general lockdown, and ask to show solidarity in these difficult times for the entire world.”
The Cannes Film Festival has only been cancelled once during its 73-year tenure. It was called off in 1968 amid socio-economic protests led by students (along with Jean-Luc Goddard and François Truffaud). The 2003 Cannes Film Festival also saw a diminished attendance from Asia due to concerns around SARS, but this is the first time in over 70 years that the festival has not taken place.
Although none of the films in the Cannes line-up have been revealed yet, there is speculation that Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch may very well be there. The film’s July 24 theatrical release still has not been postponed by Disney (which owns Searchlight Pictures), so it could possibly still be in the running if Cannes is to push back to June or July.
There is no telling if a digital Cannes Film Festival might be in the works if physical attendance is made impossible; however that is the move that SXSW made, thus making all films submitted to their festival eligible for Oscars and Independent Spirit Awards submission. Last year, Cannes hosted the premieres of Oscar-sweeping Parasite along with other Oscar nominees Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Pain and Glory and Les Misérables.
Earlier this week, France mandated a 15-day lockdown, prohibiting all outings that are deemed non-essential in order to try and curb the spread of coronavirus among the populace.