Cannes Film Festival Sets Three COVID-19 Contingency Plans for 2021 (EXCLUSIVE)

Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux has detailed a three-prong contingency plan should next year’s festival, due to run May 11–22, be forced to delay due to ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19.

Speaking with Variety ahead of the ‘Special Cannes’ opening event on Tuesday, which showcases four Cannes 2020 titles over the course of three days in the Palais des Festivals, Fremaux explained that organizers have worked with local authorities to block out three separate sets of dates in July and August should next year’s edition have to move forward.

“I hope with all my heart that the festival will take place in May,” Fremaux told Variety on Tuesday. “[But] if Cannes does not happen in May in the conditions we hope for, we will delay. [And] if it cannot take place under the proper conditions in May, we have solutions.”

Per Fremaux, plans are already set up and in place should, at any point, the event need to vacate its May window.

Working with local authorities, the festival has blocked out three potential contingency periods: one in the first half of July, another in the second half of July, and a third in the second half of August. (Traditionally a vacation period throughout France, the first two weeks of August were seemingly off the table.)

“This is a possible eventuality that has already been worked out [with the local authorities],” Fremaux explains. “We did so almost out of superstition, and hope not to use it. We’re all working under the belief that in May 2021, Cannes will be the first post-pandemic event.”

Should Cannes take place in mid-August, the festival would brush up against the Venice Film Festival, which is due to run Sept. 1 – 11, 2021, organizers revealed on Tuesday. Though it would certainly make for a more intense fall corridor than ever before, Cannes organizers are looking to play down that likelihood.

At Tuesday’s opening ceremony, festival president Pierre Lescure echoed Fremaux in reiterating Cannes’ May 2021 target.

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