No Cannes do: world's top film festival suffers Covid-19 setback

Organisers of the Cannes Film Festival in southern France, which was scheduled for May, have decided to postpone it until late June as the coronavirus pandemic spreads through France.

“A très bientôt”, “See you very soon”, the festival said in a statement. "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."

Organisers of the festival, one of the world’s biggest, that draws thousands of filmmakers, celebrities and executives, had been reluctant to cancel.

Director Thierry Fremaux said last week that you "cannot look at May through the lens of March". But the continued spread of the virus in France made it clear that the 2020 edition could not proceed as planned.

The festival’s president Pierre Lescure said there was no insurance against pandemics, but that it had reserves.

"The funds we have put in place allow up to face up a year without revenue," he said.

Lescure said that despite Cannes' proximity to the fierce Italian coronavirus epidemic, he was hopeful that Hollywood big hitters would still come.

"We remain reasonably optimistic hoping that the peak of the epidemic will be at the end of March and that we can breathe more freely in April," he told the French daily Le Figaro.

Cannes is a key event for the film industry, as countless production and distribution deals are made and signed, with executives flying in from all over the world.

It is the latest major entertainment event to be cancelled, following the cancellation Eurovision Song Contest. Other, smaller film festivals, including Tribeca, SXSW and Edinburgh have already been cancelled or put back.

(with wires)