As huge theme parks and whole sports leagues around the world pause operations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Cannes Film Festival has been reluctant to make an official declaration about this year’s event. Today, though, organizers finally acquiesced and released a statement saying that even a delay until the summer (Cannes was scheduled to begin on May 12) would not allow the festival to go on with all its typical pageantry. “We acknowledge that the postponement of the 73rd International Cannes Film Festival, initially considered for the end of June to the beginning of July, is no longer an option,” reads a statement released by the organizers. The “team” signing off on the letter called Cannes “an essential pillar for the film industry” that therefore “must explore all contingencies allowing to support the year of Cinema by making Cannes 2020 real, in one way or another.”
It’s the same troubleshooting exercise that many major film-industry events are grappling with right now as they try to strategize nontraditional ways of exhibiting new movies. Amazon has offered to launch a “film festival collection” for titles that would have played at SXSW. This would amount to a ten-day period where participating filmmakers could offer up their movies for streaming on Prime, but anything in the collection would have to be consented to by the film teams, and it’s unclear how many would actually agree to such terms. Other events, like the Tribeca Film Festival, have just been postponed indefinitely.