Just one day before its planned kickoff, the 25th Rendez-Vous with French Cinema festival in New York City has announced that the event’s starry French delegation will no longer attend due to the current coronavirus outbreak. The festival’s co-presenter UniFrance has made the decision that, “given the current context of COVID-19 and following discussions and recommendations made by other French companies and official organizations, the direction of UniFrance and its board have decided to cancel international travel for French talent scheduled to attend the festival.” All screenings will continue as planned.
Earlier today, the France-based international television market MIPTV, set to unspool later this month in Cannes, was also canceled due to ongoing health fears concerning the coronavirus. Last week, as the virus began to spread further across Europe, the first reported case appeared in Cannes, home to MIPTV, the Cannes Film Festival, and CanneSeries. On February 29, the French government ordered a nationwide ban on gatherings of 5,000 people or more.
“It is a very sad and difficult decision to make. We were so thrilled to come to New York with such a great delegation,” said Daniela Elstner, Director of UniFrance in an official statement. “We must take recommended precautions seriously, but will be doing video interviews and Q&As from France to ensure New York audiences get the same incredible experience as always. This year’s lineup is indicative of the diverse, incredible work coming out of France, and we will continue to foster artistic exchange between the French and American film industries.”
The annual festival champions the variety and vitality of French cinema, and is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary at New York’s Lincoln Center. This year’s lineup also features new works by filmmakers such as Bruno Dumont, Alice Winocour, Christoph Honore, Claude Lelouch, Quentin Dupieux, Rebecca Zlotowski, and more. This year’s festival kicks off tomorrow night with the New York Premiere of Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s “The Truth,” which stars Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke. Hawke, who is New York-based, is still set to appear in person at the premiere.
In its own statement, Film at Lincoln Center shared, “The health, wellness, and safety of our staff, audiences, and artists is our top priority. We are following all CDC guidelines and encouraging our employees to be vigilant and do the same. Our team is in touch with the State and City Departments of Health. We are monitoring the situation closely and will provide updates as needed.”
The Rendez-Vous with French Cinema festival will still take place in New York City from March 5 until March 15. More information about changes and updates made to the lineup can be found over at Film at Lincoln Center.