Cannes Explains Why It Postponed Instead of Canceling Festival, Extends Deadlines

While speculation mounts about whether the Cannes Film Festival will be postponed to late June, organizers addressed frequently asked questions, such as why it chose to delay the event rather than cancel it.

The festival said it plays a key role in the economy of world cinema and “when the decision to cancel the event in May was considered, every stakeholder in the sector asked (them) not to give up on holding it this year.”

Cannes said, in the last few weeks, many people in the industry and beyond have showed them support, from the “Japanese film distributors to Cannes café owners.”

“When the moment comes for us to all get ourselves back on our feet, to welcome festival goers, show films, open the theatres to the entire world, meet the artists, the journalists, the professionals and welcome those for whom seeing the creation, distribution and production coming back to life is important, the Festival must be ready,” Cannes organizers said.

Key sales agents who represent the majority of titles in competition have been submitting their films to Cannes’ selection committee, and are planning to attend both the festival and the market.

After deciding that a postponement would be preferable to a cancellation, Cannes then carried on a “rapid, broad, national and international consultation” to determine when and how the event could take place, along with the Marché du Film, which runs on the same dates.

Cannes said, “ultimately, it is the public authorities – The ministry of Health, the ministry of the interior, the Alpes-Maritimes regional authority, and the Cannes City Council — who will give the green light, just as they authorised us to announce a possible deferment.”

Regarding the press conference announcing the lineup, which was previously scheduled for April 16, it will now be held at a later date, “around one month before” the start of the festival, if it takes place in late June or the beginning of July.

Although the dates of the next edition are up in the air, the accreditation applications will remain open and the dates for registration have been extended by a month and a half, the festival said.

The festival won’t be able to announce the new dates until it gets clarity on when the pandemic will reach a peak in France. “We have decided to opt for the end of June because we cannot plan further ahead than that,” said the festival, adding that France, as well as many other countries, is currently on lockdown.

According to several sources, the dates that are being considered are an opening on June 23, and a closing ceremony on either July 3 or July 4. Cannes is a popular holiday destination and sees tourism take off on July 4. Pushing the festival any later during the high summer would be problematic.

To the question “isn’t it unrealistic to think the festival can take place in 2020,” organizers said they won’t abandon this year’s event until the “evidence compels (it) to do so.” Organizers cited examples of other events, such as the second round of France’s municipal elections and the Tour de France, which will be held in late June.

Cannes said if it has to cancel, it will “accept that.” “Because we are acting with humility and discretion, without ever losing sight of the national and international health priorities caused by the crisis, nor of the difficulty and pain of the days in hospitals for patients and health professionals.”

Lastly, the festival paid homage to “three great filmmaking countries: Italy, Spain and Iran, who have been particularly hard hit by the epidemic.”

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