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Coronavirus Puts a Big Question Mark Over Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival venue

Cannes Film Festival venue

The Cannes Film Festival was originally to open on May 12. Meanwhile, the event chief has ruled out the possibility of going digital with it during coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron that no festival or any other event attracting large gatherings will be allowed till the middle of July. With the Cannes Film Festival having planned to hold the 12-day event sometime at the end of June or beginning of July, there is huge question mark over it now.

The Festival was originally to open on May 12.

Rated as the Queen of all festivals, Cannes was magical in many ways. It offered some of the best movies and turned the little seaside town on the French Riviera into one of myriad celebrations. For me, this would have been my 30th edition, and despite the fact that I cover many other festivals across continents, Cannes had remained my most favourite. I have never got tired of it, and every time my plane would circle around the Mediterranean Sea before touching down at the airport in Nice (Cannes is 45 minutes from there by road), I would feel a sense of great excitement. The clear blue spring skies and the crystal clear waters of the sea were just out of this world.

As Cannes organisers had said that they could not hold the Festival unless they got the okay from the public authorities – the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the Alpes-Maritimes Regional Authority, and the Cannes City Council — Macron's latest decision would leave the Festival with no option other than cancelling this year's event. Yes, unless of course, Cannes can pull it till mid-August. On September 2, Venice is slated to start.

The President also said that theatres, restaurants and bars, as well as shops, would remain shut beyond May 11. Cinemas have been closed since March 15. Movies that were to have opened in this period could use streaming platforms, according to the National Film Board. Till now, 31 movies have benefited from this flexible window release policy in a country where there has been consistent tiff between theatres owners and streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon and others.

France, which has been on lockdown since March 17, is one of the hardest hit countries in the world with 98,076 cases of coronavirus, and 14,967 deaths.

(Gautaman Bhaskaran is author, commentator and movie critic)

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