Cannes Seeking to Collaborate With Fall Festivals on Alternative Event

Daniele Venturelli/WireImage
Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux

The annual French gathering will announce a selection of films it hopes to screen at Venice and other festivals later this year.

The Cannes Film Festival hasn't officially been canceled. Not yet. But Cannes organizers are moving ahead with Plan B: screening a selection of films at other festivals under the label "Cannes 2020."

Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux will unveil the first Cannes 2020 titles in early June and is in discussion on collaborating with various fall festivals, including Venice. The Cannes 2020 lineup will only include films that had been picked for Cannes' official selection this year that are scheduled to have a theatrical release between now and next spring. This includes movies Cannes picked for its out of competition, Un Certain Regard and Midnight screening sections. These titles will be packaged together under the "Cannes 2020" label and screen at other festivals later in the year.

If Venice goes ahead as planned in September, Frémaux has said Cannes might jointly present movies with the Italian event. Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera has said he is open to collaborating with Cannes as a "sign of solidarity towards the cinema world" during the coronavirus pandemic. But Venice is still weighing its options and could still call off this year's festival, which is currently set to run Sept. 2-12. The Italian fest is expected to announce its plans by the end of this month.

In addition to Venice, the Cannes 2020 selection could run at bigger fall festivals including Toronto, San Sebastian, Busan and New York, or at Frémaux’s own Lumière festival in Lyon.

In an interview with the U.K. trade magazine Screen Daily, Frémaux said pics that delayed their theatrical release by a year will be considered for Cannes' 2021 edition, which will begin its selection this fall. One high-profile title that's apparently already made the cut is Paul Verhoeven's lesbian nun film Bendetta, which was widely expected to debut in competition in Cannes this year and has pushed back its theatrical release to May 2021, just in time for next year's festival.

The bigger U.S. films that were expected to premiere at Cannes — including Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch and Pixar's animated feature Soul — have pushed back their releases for later this year.

Frémaux confirmed that French Dispatch and Italian director Nanni Moretti's Three Stories were two features that would not be part of this year's selection.

Frémaux also said there will be no jury and no awards for Cannes 2020 films, while Spike Lee, who was to head up the jury this year, is welcome to come back for the next physical edition of the festival. Frémaux told Screen Daily that Lee's new film, Da 5 Bloods, would have premiered out of competition at the fest this year and would have marked the return of Netflix, which backed the war drama, to the Croisette.

Meanwhile, the Cannes film market, the Marché du Film, is going ahead online with a virtual version set to run June 22-26. It will run alongside an independent market, headed up by the international sales arms of U.S. talent agencies and several major indie sales companies, that will focus on film packages for presale.