Cannes Admits Physical Festival Is Impossible, Turns to Other Plans

General Delegate Thierry Fremaux says the Cannes selection will be announced in June, and the festival will then work to promote films that would have been included

The Cannes Film Festival will not take place as a physical event in 2020, the festival’s general delegate, Thierry Fremaux, said Sunday in Paris. Instead, he said, Cannes planned to identify films that would have been selected by the festival, and to help promote them through other festivals and in organized events in theaters around the world.

Fremaux made the comments in an interview with Screen Daily, in which he said that the festival organizers had concluded, “Under the circumstances, a physical edition of Cannes 2020 is hard to envisage, so we’ll have to do something different.”

Fremaux said the festival was not prepared to move forward with a scaled-down or virtual version to comply with restrictions caused by the coronavirus. “Cannes could only have taken place as it normally does with the stars, the public, the press and the professionals,” he said. “It wasn’t possible for health reasons, so it wasn’t possible at all.”

A festival spokesperson confirmed to TheWrap that the festival will not take place.

The festival was originally scheduled to begin on Tuesday and run through May 23. Initially, Cannes announced a postponement with an eye to a late June/early July start — but in mid-April, when the French government announced that large events could not take place during that time, it released a statement conceding, “It is difficult to assume that the Festival de Cannes could be held this year in its original form.”

In Fremaux’s interview, he said that the new form will encompass a broad variety of locations and will consist mostly of a “Cannes 2020” label that can be used to market films that would have premiered at the festival.

In early June, he said, the festival will announce “the list of films that should have been part of this 73rd edition.” That list, he added, will consist entirely of films that are scheduled to be released theatrically between now and the Spring of 2021.

The films will not be broken down into the usual Cannes sections — Main Competition, Un Certain Regard and Out of Competition — but will simply be movies that would have ended up somewhere in the lineup. “Once we’ve announced the list,” he said, “the aim is to start organizing events in cinemas.”

Some films, he added, have chosen to wait and submit themselves for consideration for the 2021 edition of Cannes, while films that opt to be released on streaming platforms or in non-theatrical formats will not be included.

Cannes’ film marketplace for professionals, the Marche du Film, will take place in a virtual format.

The Cannes jury, which was to be headed by Spike Lee, will not be convened this year. Fremaux said he is in constant touch with Lee about returning to head the jury next year — and he also bemoaned the fact that Lee’s upcoming film, “Da 5 Bloods,” “should have marked Netflix’s return to the red carpet, out of competition of course.”

To support the films that have the “Cannes 2020” label, Fremaux said, the festival will create a “Cannes Outside the Walls” enterprise that will present certain films at other festivals, including Toronto, Deauville, New York, San Sebastian and Busan. It will also partner with the Venice Film Festival, which is still scheduled to take place at the end of August in Italy.

Films that will be included in “Cannes Outside the Walls,” he said, will likely include Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” Nanni Moretti’s “Three Stories” and Pete Docter’s “Soul.”

Steve Pond

Steve Pond

Awards Editor • • Twitter: @stevepond


The news you
need now, more
than ever.

The news
you need now,
more than ever.

See Subscription Options

Try PRO today

Sign up for
WrapPRO for

70% off
Back to theWrap