The French-based international film festival will not take place in June, despite earlier discussions, given the current and continuous growth of the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers are still exploring different options for this year’s edition.

Festival de Cannes said in a statement: ‘Following the French President’s statement, on Monday, April 13th, we acknowledged that the postponement of the 73rd International Cannes Film Festival, initially considered for the end of June to the beginning of July, is no longer an option. It is clearly difficult to assume that the Festival de Cannes could be held this year in its original form.’

‘Nevertheless, since yesterday evening we have started many discussions with professionals, in France and abroad. They agree that the Festival de Cannes, an essential pillar for the film industry, must explore all contingencies allowing to support the year of Cinema by making Cannes 2020 real, in a way or another,’ the organizers added.


Following their 19th March announcement that the 2020 edition wouldn’t be held in May, the festival was sketching a tentative strategy to postpone the event until the end of June or possibly through the beginning of July. Unfortunately, the continued rise of casualties caused by the coronavirus in France, as well as in the rest of the world, has made it impossible to move ahead with a summer festival.

In a televised interview on Monday evening, France’s President Emmanuel Macron said that festivals would be banned until the middle of July. Thierry Frémaux, the festival director, also told Variety that turning it into a virtual event ‘wouldn’t work’.

A possible outcome is for Cannes to be pushed to the fall, but such a timeline would be problematic for the festival circuit because September already has the Venice, Toronto and San Sebastian film festivals. October will see Mipcom taking place in Cannes for three days until 15th October 2020. Merely putting the festival together in the French Riviera town would take about a month.

There is no news from Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight, either, which usually run parallel to Festival de Cannes. They have yet to make any announcements on the matter, and the Cannes Film Market, which is also expected to unfold alongside the festival as always, has not made any decisions as to whether it will move to a digital platform in mid-June/late July of this year.

Since its first and much anticipated edition after World War II in 1946, Festival de Cannes has only been cancelled once back in 1968 because of the nationwide student riots, in which French New Wave legends François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard also participated. For the global film community, the festival’s cancellation would surely have a major impact, mostly for sales agents and distributors. After all, the Cannes film market is the year’s key event of movie deals. Last year’s film market reported a record of over 12,500 participants.

But there is another aspect that makes this festival so important. Besides its inestimable value to filmmakers, producers, agents and distributors, Festival de Cannes is crucial in positioning foreign-language movies into a commercial landscape—not to mention the festival circuit and the major awards ceremonies. The Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, the European Film Awards, the Spanish Goya Awards and the French Cesar Awards, among many others, have often drawn winners from Cannes. Last year alone, three of the five foreign-language movies nominated at the Oscars had their premiere at Festival de Cannes. ‘Parasite’ (2019) was the festival’s darling, making history with four statuettes, including a first Academy Award for the coveted Best Picture.