The president of the Cannes film festival has said that the 2020 edition will be cancelled if the coronavirus outbreak worsens but at present he is “reasonably optimistic” it will go ahead.
Speaking to Le Figaro, festival president Pierre Lescure said: “We remain reasonably optimistic in the hope that the peak of the epidemic will be reached at the end of March and that we will breathe a little better in April.”
He added: “But we are not oblivious. If not, we will cancel.”
On Sunday, the French government banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. The festival, which is due to start on 12 May, is expected to attract about 40,000 attendees, including delegates to the film market that operates alongside the screening schedule.
As recently as Monday a spokesperson for Europe’s premier film event said it would go ahead as planned.
Lescure also clarified the festival’s insurance position after a report in Variety revealed organisers had declined to add an option covering epidemics and pandemics. Lescure said that the offer would only cover €2m (£1.75m) of a €32m budget, and described it as “peanuts”.
Cannes is financed largely by a mix of corporate sponsorship and public money. He said the lack of insurance “doesn’t matter”. “The endowment fund that we have set up allows us to face at least one year without revenue.”