Industry Pays Tribute to Canceled Cannes as Palais Serves as Coronavirus Shelter

Elsa Keslassy

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Film professionals, filmmakers and journalists have taken to social media to pay tribute to the Cannes Film Festival, which was due to kick off Tuesday in the French Riviera town and was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The festival and the city of Cannes humbly marked the day by posting a picture of a large white banner above the entrance to the Palais des Festivals, where gala world premieres are hosted. The banner read, “Thank you to our caregivers, to all those who carried out essential work, to everyone for their civic duty.”

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The Palais was transformed into a homeless shelter in late March, housing around 50-70 people every night, as well as canine companions.

Festival director Thierry Fremaux said in an interview with French radio network RTL on Tuesday morning that he wholeheartedly supported the “initiative of Cannes mayor David Lisnard to have provided homeless people with food and proper sanitary conditions in (a) venue that’s often synonymous with prestige.”

“Cannes is way more than the glamor,” said Fremaux, who also paid homage to Cannes business owners, from restaurants to hotels, for whom the cancellation of the festival is a hefty financial blow.

As evidenced by online tributes, a year without Cannes is also stirring both sadness and nostalgia among film professionals.

Marc Missionnier, a well-respected French producer, tweeted a picture of his best Cannes souvenir, dating back to 2003, the year he presented his first film in the Official Selection, Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool” with Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier.


Jean Labadie, a leading arthouse distributor, also took to Twitter to mourn the festival’s absence, which he described as a “terrible blow,” adding that he was already excited for 2021.


Mumbai-based film critic Anupama Chopra, who was on the jury of Un Certain Regard in 2008, was also feeling nostalgic today.


A humorous twitter account named Uchronique du Festival de Cannes was also created with a bio reading “I tweet from a parallel dimension where the Cannes Film Festival 2020 takes place as planned.”


Elsewhere, the French TV channel OCS paid homage to the festival by airing a selection of movies that played at Cannes in previous years in special screenings, out of competition or midnight screenings.


During his interview Tuesday morning, Fremaux spoke about films that were in the pipeline for the festival, such as Paul Verhoeven’s “Benedetta” which has been postponed to 2021 (and will most likely bow at next year’s fest), Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” whose release has been pushed to October, and Nanni Moretti’s “Three Floors” whose release plans are still undetermined. Of the big world premieres he was working to secure, Fremaux mentioned again “Top Gun 2” and Pixar’s “Soul.”

He said “the dip in production (caused by the lockdown) will be a problem for everyone; that’s why a lot of films will be held for 2021 for their release or eventual Cannes’ world premiere.” He said he wasn’t overly concerned by the dearth of content, however, because if shootings restart in the next few months, Cannes will have enough titles to chose from by next April.

Regarding the Cannes label, Fremaux confirmed that it will be attributed to select movies that were part of the Official Selection and will be released later this year, up until April 2021. “We’ll announce a selection of 50 to 60 movies, in order to accompany them… so that the image of Cannes continues living and helping filmmakers,” said Fremaux, who also vowed to support cinemas lure back moviegoers upon reopening.

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