Cannes Denies French Report on Festival Cancellation

Elsa Keslassy

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The Cannes Film Festival has reiterated there are no plans to cancel the upcoming edition of the festival following the publication of a French report Saturday.

In a statement, festival director Thierry Fremaux said Cannes is “examining the situation at home and abroad carefully and lucidly in collaboration with the Cannes mayor and the CNC.”

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“We will take a decision together around mid-April,” said Fremaux. The festival’s press conference is scheduled for April 16. Fremaux said a story published in French magazine Le Point on Saturday with the headline “The Cannes Film Festival will not happen” was untruthful.

The festival told Variety on Friday that it has taken note of the new measures taken by the French government to restrict gatherings of more than 100 people, and remains hopeful.

The latest ban has not been dated and it is not yet known if it will expire ahead of the festival. “The latest restriction comes from a plan (by the government) that we hope will start to bear results in April, and by then we will know if the events scheduled for May, at Cannes and elsewhere, will be maintained,” said a festival spokesperson.

“We are working hand in hand with the mayor of Cannes and the National Film Board (CNC) to make the festival happen and, if it does, in the best possible conditions,” added the spokesperson.

Fremaux said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde on Thursday that he and his team were continuing to prepare the festival with the hope that the pandemic will be receding by mid-May.

“We have a tradition of saying the Cannes Film Festival is the first sign of summertime. To remain optimistic and keep our fighting spirit, let’s say that this year Cannes will be the first world event where we’ll (celebrate) life again,” said Fremaux.

A few hours after the publication of Fremaux’s interview, France president Emmanuel Macron called for the shutdown of schools, universities and colleges across the country beginning March 16 for an undetermined amount of time.

The country’s prime minister Edouard Philippe then announced the ban on gatherings for more than 100 people on Friday. A timeline for this restriction is expected to be unveiled soon.

Unlike in Italy, Belgium or Norway, French theaters have been allowed to remain open at the condition that exhibitors limit admissions to 100 people per auditorium.

Although several high-profile events have already been scrapped in France, including the international TV showcase Miptv and Series Mania, the TV drama festival in Lille, the French government or regional authorities did not play an active role in these cancellations.

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