Cannes Film Festival Postponed Amid Coronavirus Fears

Cannes Film Festival General - Getty - H 2019
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Organizers are still holding out hope that the 2020 fest can be held at a later date.

The coronavirus has led the Cannes Film Festival to call off this year's event as scheduled in May.

The world's most prestigious film festival made it official, announcing Thursday that its 2020 edition would not take place as planned in late May because of fears of infection connected to the continuing spread of the coronavirus in Europe.

The official festival account tweeted, "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."

Organizers are still holding out hope that the 2020 fest can been held at a later date. In a statement, organizers said they were considering "several options" to hold the event, "the main one being a simple postponement ... until the end of June, beginning of July 2020."

They said they would be monitoring the French and international heath situation to assess whether they can hold the festival at a later date and said they were in 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 Cannes Festival said it lent its "vocal support" in calling for everyone in France to respect the general lockdown introduced earlier this week, which requires people to stay home, leaving only for essential matters such as traveling to work or shopping for groceries or other essential items. 

France has been one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 9,000 confirmed infections and more than 240 deaths to date.

It is unclear what will happen to the Marché du Film, the film market that runs alongside the Cannes festival. Earlier this week, the Marché announced plans to set up a virtual market to "run alongside the physical event" for those who could not attend because of coronavirus concerns. It is likely the Marché will move its virtual event to match Cannes' new dates.

A series of independent film companies, led by the agency CAA, also have floated plans for an alternative virtual market for companies to pitch new projects and screen finished films should Cannes be canceled.