Tue. Sep 22nd, 2020

Cannes Update: Thierry Frémaux talks the future of the festival

Today would have been the announcement of the official lineup for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival In Competition selection. The quickly changing landscape of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival is beginning to take some shape, both in positive and negative directions.

As reported by Variety yesterday, the Marché du Film is now setting up a full-on virtual market from June 22-28. In addition, the Marché du Film, which has always run alongside the festival, will this year run at the same time as a CAA-led virtual market, according to an industry source close to both initiatives. Jerome Paillard, head of the Marché du Film, is to communicate details about the virtual market on Friday.

Following the French President’s April 13 announcement banning any festival from taking place until mid July, the parallel sections of the Cannes Film Festival acknowledge that the previously considered postponement to late June/early July is no longer an option. Consequently, the Directors’ Fortnight, La Semaine de la Critique and ACID regret to announce the cancellation of their 2020 editions in Cannes.

With the festival continuing to take submissions through June, Thierry Frémaux, the General Delegate of the festival, said he would even consider holding the festival during the fall or winter of 2020. Speaking with Étienne Sorin of Le Figaro magazine, Frémaux said “Since Monday evening, we have conceded it is impossible to hold Cannes in July. We considered it – it’s not obstinacy, it’s not for the festival itself, but for the things it serves: the works, the artists, the industry professionals, the theatres, the audience. For the economic reboot of the whole sector. And for the Cannes tourism bodies, which have demonstrated great understanding. The future is more uncertain than ever. It could be dark: all festivals could be cancelled,  including those at the beginning of autumn. It could brighten as summer approaches and allow us to draw up other scenarios for the following months. It goes without saying that public health remains the priority.”

The festival also entertained the idea of a limited amount of spectators and accreditations per screening. “We are considering different formats, including a masked red carpet! But everyone understands, the situation is clear now: if a festival goes ahead, it will be because everything is going ahead, that life has gone back to normal. The exit from lockdown begins on May 11. We will see how that goes. But if the virus has not gone away properly by the summer, the authorities will not allow any mass event for a long time. In any case, since nothing can be considered before mid-July. This means that the first meetings would take place when the schools are due to go back in September. In what form, remains to be seen,” said Frémaux.

One thing not being considered is a ‘virtual festival.’ Frémaux pushed back hard on that idea, not simply from a production standpoint of the festival but for the filmmakers themselves, saying “The directors and producers would have to agree to it, which is not the case. And that is not our intention, our tradition or our belief. The few trials which have already been carried out do not seem to be conclusive. However, the answer is yes for the Marché du film, which is going to offer a digital version of its sales and purchasing activities for professionals from June 22 to 26. This is the first stage of the redeployment of Cannes 2020. But a digital festival? No. Cannes is a festival, a gathering, a collective judgement, an influence. Screenings, cheers, whistles and the rest. When a film is shown on the Croisette, it is applauded, it is rewarded, it is sold, bought, distributed. Let’s remember Parasite. The added value of all of that is irreplaceable: regrettably so, dare I say, considering today’s situation.”

“Let’s wait until life starts up again and the films shout from the rooftops that they are still a force to be reckoned with: far from the dark predictions that are posted here and there about the death of cinema.”

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