Is Covid19, a.k.a. novel coronavirus, going to spell the death of the Cannes Festival this year? I say, I sure hope not. And, I really don’t think it will. But the signs, they’re worrisome. According to the powers-that-be, France is currently in what is known as Phase Two. That’s when a virus has entered the country and efforts are underway at containing it. When and if the country enters Phase III, I’d say the fat lady has sung, and it’s not a happy song.
Sibeth Ndiaye, President Macron’s spokesperson, has hinted that a French coronavirus pandemic isn’t totally improbable.
For shits and giggles I created a survey in the unofficial Facebook group “Cannes Festival” (33,000 members and counting) asking the public whether they thought that the festival would likely be canceled or not. The majority tilted in favor of the former, i.e., more people thought that the Cannes Festival would not happen this year because of virus contamination fears (lest we forget, it is the flu we’re talking about here, not a runaway cholera outbreak).
Bah humbug, I say. In the midst of the virus’s European vacation (after its emergence from a Chinese meat market, the virus quickly traveled to Europe, where Italy has been especially hard-hit by contaminations, and cases have doubled here in France in the last few days) the Berlinale still went off without a hitch and this year’s jury awarded the top bear to an Iranian filmmaker, the supremely-talented Mohammad Rasoulof, who is currently facing imprisonment charges by Iran’s judiciary branch.
The Cannes Festival is to take place in 63 days, starting on May 12th. The Marché du Film, the business compagnon piece to the official selection films being presented, may not be as well-attended this year, especially by Asian festival-goers.
I emailed the Cannes Festival this morning for a comment and got a phone call shortly after, the person at the other end reassuring me that preparations are underway, “comme d’habitude.” The Festival will proceed. As harbinger of what things may come, the Olympics, set to take place in Tokyo this summer. If the games are canceled, then I’ll wager that the Cannes Festival will follow suit, too, after receiving strong encouragement by the French government, which partly funds the festival’s 20M euro price tag.
The Cannes Festival has taken place every year since 1947, with the exception of two years where the festival went dark due to poor finances.
(so say it loud : Yes, WE CANNES!)
Right. Now on to Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Pusher” trilogy. It’s been quite a few years since the first viewing too place — time for a refresh.