Cannes vetos digital option

Festival director wants to preserve the big screen experience

by Richard Mowe

Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux: 'Directors of ‘films’ are driven by the idea of showing their movies on a big screen'
Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux: 'Directors of ‘films’ are driven by the idea of showing their movies on a big screen' Photo: Richard Mowe
Although the organisers of the Cannes Film Festival have yet to make a definitive stance on this year’s edition, postponed in theory from May until the end of June and beginning of July, with precise dates still to be fixed, one point is certain - the festival will not go down the digital route.

Festival director Thierry Frémaux has confirmed that if they cannot have a physical festival then there won’t be one. The decision follows the example of the Venice Film Festival in September, for which planning is still going ahead. Venice organisers equally have vetoed the digital alternative.

Frémaux talking to the trade publication Variety said: “Films by Wes Anderson or Paul Verhoeven on a computer? Discovering Top Gun 2 or (Pixar’s) Soul elsewhere than in a theatre? These films have been postponed to be shown on a big screen; why would we want to show them before, on a digital device?”

Faced with continuing lockdowns in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, festivals have been struggling to find solutions other than cancellation until next year - with Sheffield DocFest the latest to announce last week that its pitching forums, the MeetMarket and Alternate Realities Talent Market will take place digitally, with hopes for a series of screening weekends in the autumn.

Frémaux added: “Directors of ‘films’ are driven by the idea of showing their movies on a big screen and sharing them with others at events like festivals, not for their works to end up on an iPhone.

“If all the festivals are cancelled, we will have to think of a way to showcase films, to avoid wasting a year, but I don’t think a precarious and improvised alternative of Cannes or Venice — no sooner done than forgotten — would be the solution.” Frémaux who also organises the Lumière Festival in his home town Lyon, is a long-standing advocate of the collective experience of cinema as being the best place to present films

Cannes selectors are continuing to view potential titles and recently have extended the date for submissions and registrations.

Meanwhile the Annecy Animation Film Festival (due to run from 15 - 20 June to celebrate its 60th anniversary) has been cancelled because of the pandemic. The event which hoped to welcome Wes Anderson among the guests, traditionally attracts more than 12,000 participants. The artistic director Marcel Jean and his colleagues Mickaël Marin and Dominque Puthod, said in a statement: “We were hoping to be able to offer the exceptional anniversary that was in preparation despite the constraints of confinement. But our reason and international situation are forcing us to act with lucidity and responsibility.”

Instead they hope to offer some exclusive online content which will be announced on 15 April. And Annecy has announced its dates for next year as 14-19 June.

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