Cannes abandons 'physical' festival for 2020 but will select films for screening elsewhere

Film festival ditches plans to postpone event until later in the year in favour of collaborating with other festivals, rather than take festival online

The Cannes film festival appears to have halted any plans for a physical edition for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is aiming to sponsor screenings at other festivals and cinemas of the films that would have been selected for the festival.

In an interview with Screen, Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux said he “could never have imagined” something like the cancellation of the festival, which was originally due to start tomorrow and was “overcome with a great sense of melancholy and nostalgia.”

He added: “Under the circumstances, a physical edition of Cannes 2020 is hard to envisage, so we’ll have to do something different … Everyone understands that [it is] impossible this year.”

The festival announced in April that it had been forced to call off its event in its traditional mid-May slot, after restrictions by French government effectively banned mass gatherings until mid-July at the earliest. However, tentative suggestions that a postponed version could be mounted later in the year appear to have been abandoned. Cannes has also appeared to resist calls to go down the digital route and construct a “virtual” festival online.

Frémaux said that, at the beginning of June, Cannes would announce a list of films that would have screened in the 2020 festival; titles he mentioned included Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Nanni Moretti’s Three Stories, and the Pixar animation Soul. Eligibility is restricted to films that would have gone on theatrical release between summer 2020 and spring 2021. Then, Frémaux said, “the aim is to start organising events in cinemas” – what he termed “Cannes hors les murs”, or “Cannes outside the walls”.

Early footage of Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, which had been due to screen at the Cannes film festival.
Early footage of Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, which had been due to screen at the Cannes film festival. Photograph: The French Dispatch

Details on how this will operate have not yet been finalised, but Frémaux suggested screenings are likely to take place at other film festivals later this year. He listed a series of festivals – Toronto, Deauville, San Sebastián, New York, Busan – which will feature numerous films, as well as the Lumière festival in Lyons, of which Frémaux is also managing director. Cannes is planning to jointly present films with the Venice film festival, which is due to begin on 2 September.

Frémaux also implied that Cannes had mended relations with Netflix, with whom it had a number of high-profile disputes after the streaming giant refused to modify its stance on theatrical release windows. He said that the presence of Da 5 Bloods would have seen Netflix “return to the red carpet”.

Frémaux also called for public and government support of cinemas, saying: “There will need to be protection measures, especially around rents, and economic safeguards. The way the Germans do it: no dismissals, and everyone stays ready for a return to normal. We protected the banks in 2008, so let’s protect cinemas, theatres and bookshops in 2020. Personally, to live, I need my bank. But I also need cinema.”

Contributor

Andrew Pulver

The GuardianTramp

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