Cannes Confirms July Dates for 2021 Festival

Cannes Film Festival Coronavirus Pandemic
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The Cannes Film Festival has confirmed a new set of dates for this year’s event, which has again been postponed due to the pandemic. The decision was taken following a board meeting on Tuesday.

The initial dates, which were May 11-22, didn’t seem feasible as France is on the verge of a new lockdown in order to cope with the second wave of COVID-19. Instead, the festival will run from Tuesday, July 6, to Saturday, July 17. Variety revealed last week that organizers were looking at dates between July 5-25.

The Cannes Film Festival is expected to take place after Cannes Lions, the advertising and marketing trade show, which is still on track to run June 21-25.

In a normal year, having the festival unspool in July would have ruffled feathers with hotel owners because Cannes is a French Riviera hot spot for tourism. July, like August, is peak season and hotels are usually jam-packed with holiday tourism. However, the pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard economically and most hotels on and around the Croisette have been closed for months, since the festival and all trade shows — notably Mipcom, MipTV, Mipim and Cannes Lions — were canceled one after another in 2020. The Carlton, meanwhile, is closed until spring 2023 for renovation works.

The festival’s new Summer timing brings up the issue of cost, however, since rates for apartment rentals and hotels in Cannes in July are generally much pricier than in May. A hotel owner near the Palais des Festivals said local venues will likely be making some sensible adjustments to their regular pricing and will be willing, in some cases, to take hotel reservations without a deposit since the pandemic is creating some much uncertainty.

The 2020 Cannes Film Festival did unveil an Official Selection but the festival itself was canceled due to the health crisis. Organizers are doing everything they can to avoid that scenario in 2021. Variety understands that if the July dates don’t work out, the end of August is being considered as a back-up. The latter scenario could be problematic, however, due to its proximity with the Venice Film Festival, which is set to run from Sept. 1-11.

Spike Lee, who was named jury president for Cannes in January 2020 but was never able to serve due to the fest’s cancellation, is still expected to lead the 2021 jury.