Concern grows over Cannes plans

New French restrictions put the squeeze on crowds

by Richard Mowe

Unrolling the red carpet at last year’s Cannes Film Festival: will this year’s edition be hit by virus?
Unrolling the red carpet at last year’s Cannes Film Festival: will this year’s edition be hit by virus? Photo: Richard Mowe

Although the Cannes Film Festival authorities are putting on an optimistic front in the face of the coronavirus, new regulations brought in by health minister Olivier Véran must be giving increasing cause for concern. Now gatherings of more than 1,000 people (rather than 5,000 as previously) have been banned in a bid to stem the outbreak in France where there have been 19 deaths and 1,126 cases of infection recorded.

The Festival has confirmed that it is putting together the selection of films with the line-up due to be revealed on 16 April. The organisers also noted that registrations so far were nine per cent up on last year, indicating that the effects of the virus had not had an impact to date.

The virus, however, has already lead to the cancellation of MipTV which had been due to run in Cannes from 30 March to 2 April. Series Mania, an international festival of television series in Lille from 20 to 29 March, may also be under threat under the new stipulations. Their attendees number some 3,000.

Unlike in Italy, most of France’s cinemas are open for business apart from in a few infected areas, but some new film releases (as in the case globally with the new James Bond offering) are being held back until the situation is clarified. Most Italian cinemas shut down at the weekend while box office revenue took a nose dive. Under new Italian regulations, patrons were requested to sit more than three seats apart from each other.

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