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Cannes’ Palais des Festivals Is Now a Homeless Shelter Amid Nationwide Lockdown

With the Cannes Film Festival now postponed, the city is repurposing a key venue as a temporary homeless shelter.

General view of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, southern France, 22 March 2020. France is under lockdown in an attempt to stop the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the Covid-19 disease.Coronavirus in France, Cannes - 22 Mar 2020

General view of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes

SEBASTIEN NOGIER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

With the Cannes Film Festival now postponed to a yet-to-be-determined date, the view along the Croisette on the French Riviera is desolate. But the city has decided to repurpose a festival’s usual hub, the Palais des Festivals, as a temporary shelter for the homeless amid the country’s ongoing lockdown.

According to a report in Reuters, France has an estimated 12,000 homeless people, and the country’s current order to stay indoors per President Emmanuel Macron presents a challenge for those without shelter. A Cannes Town Hall official told Reuters that the Palais now sees between 50 and 70 people come through its doors every night, with the city offering areas for food, showers, recreational space for entertainment, as well as sleeping cots lined up and down the venue’s vast halls. Normally at this time, the Palais would also be prepping to host the annual content marketplace MIPTV, which was set for March 30 through April 3 but is no longer happening.

The Cannes Film Festival, which draws tens of thousands of people each year, was originally set to take place May 12 through 23, but was called off last week with a hoped-for revival date eyed for late June. The festival would’ve announced its competition lineup on April 16, so the extra time could give programmers space to add new titles to the lineup, which annually sets the tone for the movie year going forward, from later festivals to awards season. Continually shifting release dates for movies worldwide may also mean that programmers have to reevaluate aspects of the lineup. Given the unpredictable situation, it’s impossible to know how realistic the late June timeline really is, especially as other festivals have shuttered their 2020 editions left and right.

“As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our ongoing consultation with the French Government and Cannes’ City Hall as well as with the Festival’s Board Members, film industry professionals and all the partners of the event,” Cannes Film Festival organizers said in a statement, when the biggest movie event of the year was delayed on March 19.

Read IndieWire’s wishlist for the films we hope to see at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, from Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” to Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” here.

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