Organizers of the Cannes Film Festival, due to take place May 12-23, have said they are considering delaying the event until the end of June or beginning of July.
“As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our ongoing consultation with the French Government and Cannes’ City Hall as well as with the Festival’s Board Members, Film industry professionals and all the partners of the event,” they said in a statement yesterday.
When, in early March, the French government restricted gatherings of more than 1,000 people, doubt was cast on whether the festival would go on as scheduled.
Variety ran a story quoting a source at the festival’s insurance company, Circle Group, saying, “There is no way a cancellation due to a virus outbreak will be taken into account by an insurance company as a case of force majeure if it’s clearly excluded from coverage in contracts—even if the government gets involved.” (The entertainment media also pointed out that most insurance companies in France do not cover cancellation due to the coronavirus.)However, Pierre Lescure, Cannes Film Festival president, responded by telling Le Figaro, “We can face a year without revenue.”
Lescure told the French daily that they declined an offer by Circle Group, reportedly "to purchase a buy-back option covering epidemics and pandemics" because it would only “cover up to two million euros when our budget amounts to 32 million.”
This would be only the fourth time in its history that the festival has not happened. The first "Festival International du Film" took place on September 1, 1939, which was the same day Germany invaded Poland and launched World War II. The festival was shut down the next day.
The next full-length edition would open September 20, 1946, and other than in 1948 and 1950 (canceled due to lack of finances) and 1968 (civil unrest across France), the festival has taken place every year. (It was moved from September to April in 1951, and then to May later in the decade.)
Pick up a copy of The Lumiere Affair: A Novel of Cannes by Sara Voorhee if you need a festival fix with lots of behind the scene tidbits.