The Cannes Film Festival has been postponed. Organizers confirmed Thursday evening that the film festival will no longer take place during the scheduled dates of May 12-23, and several options are now being considered, including postponing the event until the end of June through to the beginning of July.
The festival press conference, originally scheduled for April 16, has also been delayed. Cannes is to announce the new date for the press conference when they reveal the exact timings of the festival.
The decision to postpone, which comes as France remains in lockdown in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, follows weeks of speculation around the fate of this year’s edition.
The festival said in a statement, “At this time of global health crisis, our thoughts go to the victims of the Covid-19 and we express our solidarity with all of those who are fighting the disease.”
“As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our 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 Festival de Cannes lends its vocal support to all of those who firmly call on everyone to respect the general lockdown, and ask to show solidarity in these difficult times for the entire world.”
The Cannes Marché du Film will also be postponed to run alongside the festival, Variety has learned.
On Wednesday, an initiative led by Hollywood talent agency CAA to set up a virtual film market that would replace or run parallel to the Cannes Marché du Film was unveiled. However, the Cannes Marché du Film then confirmed it was developing its own virtual market with its digital service Cinando for industry professionals who may not be able to attend the market.
The 2020 postponement marks the first such delay for Cannes since its first edition after WW2 in 1946. It was only canceled once in 1968 during the nationwide student riots that were supported by French New Wave icons François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.
However, many had expected that Cannes would be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled much of Europe in the span of just one month.
Despite Cannes’ optimism that the show can go on, moving the festival to late June-early July is still a risky gamble considering France, Italy and Spain are currently in lockdown mode and the U.K. will likely soon follow.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., President Donald Trump has banned travel to and from Europe for 30 days while talent agencies and studios have also issued travel bans.
Although industry professionals and filmmakers could be willing to make the trip because Cannes remains the world’s most prestigious festival, for high-profile U.S. stars, at least, making the trip will be a significant challenge.
In France, the spread of Covid-19 prompted the cancellation of Lille drama festival Series Mania as well as Cannes-set April TV market MipTV — both of which still live on as virtual offerings. Meanwhile, advertising market Cannes Lions was postponed to October.
Elsewhere, while SXSW was outright canceled by organizers, the Tribeca Film Festival was postponed, though a new date has yet to be announced.
The impact on Cannes, however, is particularly disappointing given it is rolling off a banner year that saw Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” win the Palme d’Or and go on to win four Oscars.
The 2019 edition also world premiered Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain & Glory,” Ladj Ly’s “Les Miserables” and Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.”
The decision to postpone comes a few days after France president Emmanuel Macron put the country in full lockdown mode for at least two weeks. In Europe, France is the third most impacted country (behind Italy and Spain) by coronavirus with 10,995 cases and 372 deaths as of Thursday.