Three international film festivals canceled or postponed their upcoming editions Monday. Switzerland’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) and Think Cinema Lausanne (a.k.a. Rencontres 7e Art) have been canceled, and Greece’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has been postponed as concern intensifies in Europe about the spread of coronavirus.
FIFDH said its cancellation followed the decision of the Swiss government this weekend to prohibit any event with more than 1,000 people.
Due to be held from March 6-15 in Geneva, FIFDH usually attracts about 40,000 people and guests from 30 countries.
FIFDH has canceled all public screenings at the festival, but says it will work hard “to propose an adapted format that respects the FIFDH’s mission to promote human rights, in particular by using digital tools.”
“It is an extremely difficult decision for the team, but it is a case of force majeure,” said FIFDH president Bruno Giussani. “We take our responsibility to ensure the safety and health of our guests, our public and the members of the festival team very seriously. We are confident that our guests, partners, benefactors, as well as the thousands of people who trust us and attend the festival every year will understand,” he added.
The 3rd edition of Think Cinema was to be held from March 4-8 in Lausanne. Organizers said the decision to cancel was taken with “great sadness.” According to a statement: “The current context linked to the coronavirus epidemic in Switzerland and the uncertainty surrounding the situation makes it impossible for Think Cinema to be held in appropriate conditions, and the medical authorities cannot ensure that they will be able to deliver an authorization for the duration of the event.”
Meanwhile, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival – which was meant to be held from March 5 to 15 – said it has postponed this year’s event.
In a statement, it said: “The safety of the working staff, the audience, the city’s residents and the festival’s guests from both Greece and abroad are our top-notch priority.”
The festival says it is considering moving the event to the end of May or the beginning of June, and that it will shift many of its activities online.
“A significant part of the initiatives and projects hosted by Agora, the development branch of the festival, will be carried out via the internet, providing the chance to accredited professionals from all over the world to watch and evaluate Greek documentaries so as to include them in their future financing projects and festival programming.
“Furthermore, the Docs in Progress segment will be carried out online so that awards and cash prizes are bestowed without any delay.”