Cannes: ‘Nothing has changed’ despite new ban on gatherings of over 1,000 | Film


Organisers of the Cannes film festival, scheduled to begin in two months, have said they are working as normal, despite increased concerns in the film industry about the coronavirus. On Sunday, France banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, which many assumed would spell the end to plans for this year’s edition.

“Nothing has changed our end,” a spokesperson told the Guardian. “The festival staff are currently working. The festival heads are liaising with the city hall of Cannes and the prefecture, and will take all the mandatory measures to follow the legislation.”

The only official communication from the festival on Monday was the announcement of this year’s Cinefondation’s Atelier selection of 16 promising directors. The coronavirus outbreak was not mentioned.

On Thursday, French authorities had banned public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in an enclosed space until the end of May. The timespan for the new ban is not known.

The largest cinema in the Palais du Festival seats 2,300 people. Last year’s festival attracted more than 12,500 delegates. In a defiant email on Friday, the festival reconfirmed a press conference to announce the programme lineup in Paris on 16 April, and mentioned that accreditation applications were up 9% this year.

The SXSW festival – which has a significant film sidebar – was cancelled on Saturday. American Film Institute’s life achievement award gala, which this year honours Julie Andrews and was set for 25 April, will be rescheduled for early this summer.

Organisers of the Venice and Toronto film festivals – which take place in the late summer – have said they are monitoring the situation but that it is too soon to speculate on whether their plans will need to change.

Box office takings in the US over the weekend held steady from projections, with Onward taking the No 1 spot with $40m (£30.5m) – lower than usual for a Pixar film but in line with estimates drawn up before the coronavirus hit the US.



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