In the late 1930s, the increasing bias towards Fascism and Nazism in the then-only international film festival in Venice led to jury members from France, the UK and the US to withdraw from the event. The French government would select the Riviera city of Cannes to host their own bias-free international film festival. The first edition of it in 1939 only got as far as the gala before World War II canceled it. Not until 1946 was the eventual Cannes Film Festival finally inaugurated. In 2020 the film-fest got cancelled again by the COVID pandemic; and even now it is interfering with this year’s edition, causing delay to the summer.
The New York Times confirms the postponement of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival due to lingering concerns regarding COVID-19. This was announced by the organizers on a statement released Wednesday, January 27. Originally set for May 11 to 22, the film-fest will now have to wait until July 6, when it will run until the 17th of that month. The re-scheduling is in line with the Cannes organizers’ previous announcement late last year, where they reserve the right to arbitrarily change the festival dates as needed in response to the current worldwide COVID pandemic situation.
France in its entirety currently has to live with a 6PM curfew, which also means that cinemas and other cultural venues that could attract mass gatherings of people remain indefinitely closed. As of Tuesday, January 26, the country logged over 22,000 new cases of COVID-19, and 612 more have joined the 74,000 deaths to that disease alone in the country. Cannes spokesperson Aïda Belloulid gave the first hints of postponing the event way back in December 2020, with the trend in Europe seeing a flatting of the curve in terms of new cases, but a worrying uptick in COVID-related deaths.
Last year’s cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival led to the to-date held release of “The French Dispatch” from director Wes Anderson, while Pixar’s “Soul” eventually went streaming on Disney+ by December. The jury would have been led by Spike Lee. Current difficulties with Cannes are exacerbated by production delays in COVID vaccines slated for distribution in France. Other European festivals face similar trials. The Berlin Film Festival on February 11 was also postponed, while the Glastonbury festival for pop music canceled this year.
Image courtesy of Reuters