Cannes keeps coronavirus options open

Festival planning continues despite crowd ban until 31 May

by Richard Mowe

Packed auditorium watches red carpet arrivals at the Cannes Film Festival - organisers say planning continues
Packed auditorium watches red carpet arrivals at the Cannes Film Festival - organisers say planning continues Photo: Richard Mowe
Although the French Health Minister Olivier Veran has extended the ban on gatherings of more than 5000 people in confined spaces until 31 May in the wake of the coronavirus, the Cannes Film Festival organisers have suggested for the moment that the festival and its market will go ahead as planned.

The festival scheduled to run from 12 to 23 May with a media launch in Paris in the middle of April would only have a maximum of some 2300 people in the one place at the one time - the capacity of the Lumière, the main auditorium in the Palais des Festivals. And the market with its myriad stands for sales companies and others also does not reach the 5000 total at any one time even though the number of registered participants is around 12,500.

Speculation grew earlier in the week when the organisers of the TV industry showcase MIPTV announced that they have cancelled the edition due to run in Cannes from 30 March to 2 April.

The official line from the Cannes Film Festival was that it was far too premature to consider cancellation of an event that will not take place for another two-and-a-half months. Work on the official selection continues apace. The minister’s announcement said that the representative of the French State in each region is entitled to “forbid or restrict, including through individual measures, other (smaller) gatherings”.

In the areas of France most affected by the virus, notably Oise and Morbihan, some 40 cinemas have been closed by the local authorities.

A total of 285 confirmed cases of the illness has been noted in France and four deaths have been recorded so far while 13 of the cases have been found in the Cannes area of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

The news comes a day after it was announced that the release date of James Bond film No Time To Die has been pushed back to November. Yesterday, it was also announced that the French delegation will not attend this year's Rendez-Vous With French cinema, while earlier in the week Thessaloniki Documentary Festival was postponed.

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