The Cannes Festival will indeed take place this year, two months later than usual. In a press release sent this afternoon by email, the festival said the 2021 edition would run from the 6th to the 17th of July. Cannes would thus take place about a month after the government of France will have been able to complete dissemination of the covid-19 vaccine nationwide, the idea being that, for France, at least, the coronavirus will presumably be under control.
I live in France and when the first lockdown occurred, I figured, there won’t be anymore of those. There cannot be. Famous last words.
Present-day: we are looking at our third lockdown—possibly, an announcement should be made in a few days.
If the past year has shown us anything where concerns the covid-19 pandemic, it is that unpredictability rules the day. But, instead of this year’s show of uncertainty and indecisiveness coming from the organizers, with little in the way of communication going out to the public, today’s announcement marks a new and bold strategy. The question is, will it pay off? If the festival takes place, how many people out of the expected 6,000 festival-goers usually in attendance will show? I’m going on my dime to the festival, so I’m hoping for the as-close-to-100%-operational experience, two press rooms, all the theaters open, films running on schedule, the press lounges, the interview balconies, and the restaurants and bars lively with the din of chatter and clinking of silverware, music in the background and people smoking everywhere.
For my part, and even though nothing replaces screenings in the comfortable Salle du Soixantième on the rooftop, or the 8:30 a.m. mass-like atmosphere of the competition film screenings, rather than the usual festival, made slightly implausible by this worldwide pandemic, I would’ve instead envisioned an online festival, like what Sundance is doing. This will ensure movies are seen by a maximum number of people under optimal conditions, without having to fret about the myriad risks of things going south (cluster scares, idiots spreading rumors and somesuch).
Organizing the Cannes Festival, I imagine, must be like launching an aircraft carrier at sea, there are so many moving parts to be mindful of. So yes, maybe going full online, a great departure from the norm for Cannes, would’ve been the better choice this year.
People, they made the movies. And the movies, they need to be watched.
Fingers crossed. Yes, we Cannes!