Pandemic delays Cannes Film Festival until July

The Cannes Film Festival, one of the movie world’s most renowned events, has been postponed, showing the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cannes Festival played last year to empty seats.Credit:AP

The festival was meant to run May 11-22 but has now been rescheduled to July 6-17, the organisers said in a statement.

“As announced last autumn, the Festival de Cannes reserved the right to change its dates depending on how the global health situation developed,” the statement said.

The decision had been expected. Last month, Aïda Belloulid, the festival’s spokeswoman, told The New York Times that the event might be shifted because of the pandemic, as cases were then surging across Europe. Whatever date the festival took place, she said, it will be a “classic” Cannes, including stars on the Croisette.

Since then, the situation has only gotten more complicated in Europe. Case numbers are flattening in some countries, but deaths have surged and restrictions on daily life have been extended.

In France, there is a nationwide 6 pm curfew and cultural venues including movie theatres are shut with no reopening date in sight. Daily COVID-19 cases and deaths appear to be stabilising, but more than 22,000 new cases were announced on Tuesday, with 612 deaths.

Some 74,000 people in the country have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The French government is rolling out vaccines, but its drive has been hit by production delays and a growing row between AstraZeneca, the European Union and Britain over scarce supplies. There is also widespread scepticism of vaccines in the country.

It is the second year that Cannes has been affected. Last year, the customary May festival was cancelled. It had been set to include the premieres of Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Pixar’s Soul with a jury led by Spike Lee. (The Anderson movie has not debuted yet; Soul was released on Disney+ in December.) In the end, Cannes was only able to hold a “special” edition in October featuring a handful of films and little of the usual red-carpet glamour. The event received next to no media attention.

Movie fans had hoped some major festivals could be staged this spring, especially given vaccine rollouts. But Cannes is only one of several major cultural events in Europe that have now been postponed or cancelled, showing that the pandemic’s effects on cultural life will be felt throughout the year. In December, the Berlin Film Festival, scheduled to start February 11, was postponed, and organisers said they wouldn’t stage public screenings until June.

Last week, the Glastonbury festival, Britain’s largest pop music event, scheduled for June, was cancelled. The same day, Art Basel announced that its flagship trade fair in Switzerland would be postponed until September, providing a major blow to the international art trade.

Cannes will have to wait and see if the new July dates are possible.

“If the festival takes place, it means the global health situation allows it, and people will be able to travel again,” Belloulid, the festival’s spokeswoman, said in an email. “The industry, the film teams, the journalists, they all want to come.”

New York Times

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