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Cannes Film Festival Likely to Be Postponed Until July

Courtesy of FIF/Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival is set to announce by the end of the month whether it will keep its May dates or postpone to the summer. The festival is currently looking to take place sometime between July 5-25, Variety has learned.

Although a Cannes bow in late June had been discussed, it appears this slot will be taken by the Cannes Lions, the annual advertising market, which is still scheduled to run June 21-25. A source at the Cannes Lions said there are no plans in place to postpone the event to October, as it did last year before it was canceled altogether due to the pandemic.

With the Cannes Lions still on track to run June 21-25, it’s feasible that the Cannes Film Festival could be assembled in time to roll out in early July. One industry insider says it would take only a few days or roughly a week to set up the film festival.

The syndicate of Cannes hotels (Syndicat des hotels de Cannes et du Bassin Cannois) was advised last week that the Cannes Film Festival would most likely be moved to July.

“We’d much prefer if the festival happens in May, obviously, but we’ve said we’ll be happy to get prepared to welcome the festival in July; the dates we’ve agreed on are between July 5-25. So, the festival could start roughly around July 5, or a few days later,” said the owner of a hotel located near the Palais des Festivals.

In a normal year, having the festival unspool in July would have sparked protests from hotel owners because Cannes is a French Riviera hot spot for tourism. July, like August, is peak season and hotels are usually jam-packed with holiday tourism. However, the pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard economically and most hotels on and around the Croisette have been closed for months, since the festival and all trade shows — notably Mipcom, MipTV, Mipim and Cannes Lions — were canceled one after another in 2020. The Carlton, meanwhile, is closed until spring 2023 for renovation works.

Cannes organizers are also considering a slight extension to the festival due to the plethora of strong films in the pipeline. Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux suggested in an interview with French magazine Les Inrocks that one idea being discussed is to start the festival one day earlier and end it one day later, which could mean that Cannes would start on a Monday, and end on a Sunday. The question is whether these extra days can be squeezed into the festival’s budget.

A plan C previously mentioned by Cannes organizers involved alternative dates at the very end of August, but that slot — which brushes up against the Venice Film Festivalisn’t being seriously considered at this point. It could find itself back on the table, however, if the pandemic prevents the festival from happening sooner.

Last year’s Cannes Film Festival did unveil an Official Selection but the festival itself was canceled due to the health crisis, which was met with despair from the global film community. That scenario won’t happen again this year: organizers have vowed to host Cannes in 2021. Ideally, Cannes, which is the world’s biggest film festival, could be the first international film event of the year.

In the meantime, the Palais des Festivals, where stars walk up the iconic red carpet during gala film premieres, has been turned into a ‘Vaccinodrome’ where locals can get the new COVID-19 vaccine.

Variety's Elsa Keslassy contributed to this post.

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