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The Cannes International Film Festival, previously postponed due to the novel coronavirus, said Tuesday that it won’t take place in its originally planned form, but is still exploring options for a 2020 edition.
The organizers of the world’s most prestigious film festival didn’t confirm new dates for the 73rd Cannes Film Festival.
The 2020 festival was originally scheduled to run May 12-23, but was postponed due to health concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
There were widespread calls for Cannes to cancel the festival altogether, but organizers held out hope that the event could take place if authorities judged the crisis to be over. They continued to hope the 2020 Festival du Cannes could be held in late June to early July.
Those hopes were dashed Monday night, when French President Emmanuel Macron announced new measures extending France’s national coronavirus lockdown and banning all public events, including festivals, until mid-July.
On Tuesday, festival organizers 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 it was “difficult to assume” that the event could be held this year “in its original form.”
But, in typical Cannes style, the festival did not close the door entirely. Instead of canceling outright, organizers said they are exploring contingencies to make “Cannes 2020 real, in a way or another” and have begun discussions with members of the industry in France and abroad to do so.
That muddled message is unlikely to satisfy those in the industry who want to be able to plan the release and marketing of their films and need to know if, and in what form, Cannes will take place this year.
France is one of the countries worst hit by the virus, with more than 136,000 people infected with COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and 15,000 deaths attributed to the disease as of Tuesday. The country has been under lockdown measures since March 17.
President Macron has extended lockdown measures until May 11. But large public gatherings of all kinds, from those in bars and restaurants to concerts, movie theaters and festivals, will remain banned until mid-July.
This marks the first time since 1968 that Cannes has been disrupted. Then, it was because of nationwide student protests and strikes, not a deadly new virus.
Canceling Cannes would have left a big hole in the center of the independent film circuit. Several titles tipped for a Cannes bow — including Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria — would have had to find a new festival home.
The independent film market scene would have also needed to scramble to find an alternative to the Marché du Film, Cannes’ official film market. For the 2020 event, the Marché will also launch a digital platform to allow buyers and sellers who cannot attend the physical market to conduct business online.
Alex Ritman and Georg Szalai in London contributed to this report.
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