Although there are bright chances of a vaccine against the Coronavirus coming sooner rather than later with Pune's Serum Institute of India, AstraZenca and many others racing against time to produce one – there is still some uncertainty about holding movie festivals.
This year, many, beginning with the inaugural edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival at Jeddah, were cancelled, some took on a digital form. Yes, a few like Venice and the ongoing El Gouna were bold enough to hold physical versions. Tokyo at the end of this month will be partly physical and partly digital with no foreign invitees. The International Film Festival of India at Goa's Panaji is planning its edition at the end of January 2021.
In a scenario such as this, Thierry Fremaux, chief of the Cannes Film Festival, which had to call of its May 2020 edition, is understandably playing safe, very safe.
With the virus rearing its head again in France and some other parts of Europe, he has come out with a three-pronged strategy in case the Festival, now slated to be held from May 11 to 22 2021, is delayed. The Festival has worked out a plan to block three set of additional dates in July and August.
Fremaux, who has been at the helm of affairs for many years, told the media, “I hope with all my heart that the Festival will take place in May. However, if Cannes does not happen in May in the conditions we hope for, we will delay. If it cannot take place under the proper conditions in May, we have solutions.”
So, Cannes has blocked one set of dates in the first half of July, the second in the second half of the month, and finally the third in the first 15 days of August.
Venice begins on September 1.
Fremaux added, “This is a possible eventuality that has already been worked out. We did so almost out of superstition, and hope not to use it. We’re all working under the belief that in May 2021, Cannes will be the first post-pandemic event.”
So then, should one presume that Berlin may not take place in February 2021, although things are looking up in Germany now. But with winter round the corner, Europe may face a fresh attack from the Coronavirus.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)