Unfestive streets of Cannes

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Unfestive streets of Cannes

Victor Akande


IT’S another time of the year, but for the Covid -19 pandemic, the airspace to Southern France would have been busy, and so are the roads and railway lines from different parts of Europe.

Grand hotels, restaurants, theatres, and the seaside are all empty. There are no celebrity chauffeuring, no exquisite fashion display, and no red carpet glam.

The unusual has happened, as Festival de Cannes, scheduled to run from May 12 to May 23, was cancelled, and there is no offering of an online program.

Like Cannes, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is struggling with the same fate. But the North American film festival is looking at both onsite and digital innovations, which will provide options that will deliver for its audiences, support filmmakers and partners, and bolster the industry.

TIFF says it will continue to follow the updates on COVID-19 closely, but while keeping hope alive, it is very uncertain that there will be a physical gathering in September.

From the current look at the situation around the world, businesses in different country may open in the next four months, but not much can be predicted for international travels.

Expectedly so, the festival organisers say: “We recognize that in planning for the Festival now, there is still uncertainty about what “people coming together again” will look like in September.

For now, we encourage you to check in on your friends and family. Share your favourite films with them to watch at home.

Our recently launched Stay-at-Home Cinema series, streaming on Crave, provides a way for communal filmgoing to still thrive. Let’s use great art to confront our fears, soothe our anxieties, and connect with one another.”

But perhaps, unlike Cannes, TIFF may consider a digital festival; there is still time to plan. Cannes couldn’t get this off for fear it could compromise standard.

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To shift films that have been planned to show on the big screen into online screening is out of the equation.

But there are indications that online screening is inevitable to some extent as a way of getting some of its programs off the pile.

To this end, the organizers of Cannes Film Festival say they are currently considering cooperating in some way with the Venice International Film Festival.

Venice, one of the three top festivals in Europe along with Cannes and the Berlinale, still plans to hold its festival, scheduled for September 2-12, 2020 despite the fact that Italy is among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

And while the French festival’s organizers are loath to hold the actual festival online, they are still going digital in a sense.

Cannes, Venice, the Berlinale, Sundance and Tribeca are among 20 international festivals offering viewers worldwide a free online film festival from May 29 to June 7.

Under the name “We Are One: A Global Film Festival,” feature films, short and documentary films, music and virtual round tables will be presented on YouTube.

But contrary to expectation, Venice says there is no plan to collaborate with Cannes in September. President of Venice Film Festival’s parent group, the Venice Biennale, Roberto Cicutto said he was confident Italian authorities would grant Venice special permission to open “six or seven circumscribed movie theaters” during the festival for screenings, but there is no dialogue with Cannes.

Cicutto told Italian news agency ANSA that it would not postpone or cancel the 2020 event despite health concerns amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Currently, Italy is in a near-complete lockdown, with all cinemas and nonessential businesses shuttered.

The country has been among the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with 179,000 confirmed infections of COVID-19, and more than 23,000 deaths.

Unfestive streets of Cannes

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