With France in virtual lockdown, the Cannes Film Festival has been postponed from May 12-23 and organisers are now considering dates in late June or early July.

It’s the first time the festival has been delayed since it was relaunched in 1946 after World War II. The 1968 edition was disrupted during nationwide students riots that were joined by French New Wave icons such as François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.

Here’s the statement from the festival:

“At this time of global health crisis, our thoughts go to the victims of the COVID-19 and we express our solidarity with all of those who are fighting the disease.

“Today, we have made the following decision: The Festival de Cannes cannot be held on the scheduled dates, from May 12 to 23. Several options are considered in order to preserve its running, the main one being a simple postponement, in Cannes, until the end of June-beginning of July, 2020.

“As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our ongoing consultation with the French Government and Cannes’ City Hall as well as with the Festival’s board members, film industry professionals and all the partners of the event.”

Cannes had tried to maintain a business-as-usual approach and was considering movies for selection but a delay became inevitable after president Emmanuel Macron put the country in full lockdown mode for at least two weeks and after MIP TV, Canneseries and Series Mania in Lille were cancelled.

Last year’s festival was among the most impressive with the premieres of the eventual Oscar Best Picture winner Parasite and Oscar-nominated films Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Pain and Glory and Les Miserables.

It remains to be seen whether the virtual film market, which leading independent film companies and talent agencies were considering staging if the festival and Marché moved, goes ahead.

The Marché du Film had said it was developing its own virtual market with its digital service Cinando for industry professionals who could not attend.

That would enable sales agents to invite buyers to watch films on line while virtual negotiations would take place via the Match&Meet and Zoom applications, all for a half-price accreditation fee.

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