Shanghai Film Festival Postponed in Response to Novel Coronavirus

Shanghai Skyline Night Getty - H 2018
studioEAST/Getty Images

Organizers emphasized that the event's 23rd edition, originally scheduled for late June, would take place in some form at a later date.

The Shanghai International Film Festival, China's oldest and most prestigious cinema event, is the latest victim of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers said Wednesday that Shanghai's upcoming 23rd edition, scheduled June 13-23, would not proceed as planned.

"Due to the impact of the novel coronavirus epidemic, the organizing committee of the Shanghai International Film Festival has decided to postpone," the committee said, emphasizing that the event would be delayed but not scrapped altogether.

"Despite the impact of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparations for 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival have progressed steadily thanks to the generous support and deep engagement of the entire film community at home and abroad. We are deeply grateful for what you've done for us, and we hereby apologize for any inconveniences caused by the postponement," the group added. "The new dates for the 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival will be announced as soon as possible."

Organizers of the Beijing International Film Festival, China's secondary flagship cinema event, usually held in April, put out a similar postponement notice in March. That event has yet to unveil plans for a physical festival, although an online mini-event was held earlier this month in partnership with local streaming service iQiyi.

Shanghai's postponement comes despite the fact that China has lifted most stay-at-home orders and much of the country is moving toward a full resumption of economic activity. China's temporary ban on all inbound foreign travelers remains in place, however. If the Shanghai festival had chosen to carry on, it would have been a much smaller and less international occasion than usual.

Theatrical moviegoing in China also remains on ice. The central government in Beijing has given cinemas the green light to reopen — provided that strict safety protocols are followed — but exhibitors are awaiting further instructions and reassurances from the China Film Administration, the regulatory body that oversees the movie sector. No date for the reboot of China's vast network of 70,000 movie screens has been announced.

Founded in 1993, the Shanghai festival has become China's top draw for Hollywood talent. Recent attendees have included Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Danny Boyle, Angelina Jolie, Luc Besson, Tom Hooper and Ang Lee.