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Cannes Will Announce Official Selection in June, but There’ll Be No Physical Edition This Year

Cannes director Thierry Frémaux instead wants to take the films out into the world, across partnering film festivals and at cinemas in the fall.

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


Update (May 28): Cannes has chosen June 3 as the date in which it will reveal its official selection for 2020. As every year, the event will take place at the UGC Normandie in Paris. The organization said in a statement: “For the occasion, the Festival’s General Delegate will reveal 2020’s Official Selection, the films to be awarded the Cannes stamp of approval upon their release in cinemas and screenings at certain festivals.”

Earlier: The Cannes Film Festival will announced a revised Official Selection of movies in June, but there will be no physical edition of the festival this year. Instead, delegate general Thierry Frémaux said the festival plans to present the films at partnering film festivals, including September’s Venice International Film Festival, and across cinemas. “As of today, a physical edition seems complicated to organize, so we are going forward with an announcement of films from the (initial Official) Selection at the beginning of June,” a festival spokesperson confirmed to Variety.

In a new interview with Screen Daily, published on the eve of when the 2020 edition was supposed to kick off, Frémaux explained that the films highlighted in the Official Selection will be those scheduled for theatrical release between now and spring 2021.

“The selection probably won’t be under the usual structured format that we all know with the Competition, Un Certain Regard, and Out of Competition sections,” Frémaux  told Screen Daily. “It would have been ridiculous to behave as if nothing had happened. But in our heart of hearts what we want to do is promote the films that we saw and loved. We received films from around the world, magnificent works, and it’s our duty to help them find their audience. Once we’ve announced the list, the aim is to start organizing events in cinemas. Professionals the world over with whom we’re in contact on a daily basis, tell us that this represents an opportunity for their projects.”

Frémaux also said some films opted to be reconsidered instead for the 2021 edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Films chosen for the 2020 Official Selection will receive a “Cannes 2020” label for their theatrical and/or alternate festival release.

“With the Cannes 2020 label and the online Marché du Film, a ‘Cannes hors les murs’ [outside the walls] will be the third plank of our redeployment this autumn,” Frémaux said, explaining that the plan to take the Official Selection out into the world extends beyond just Venice, which will make a decision about its fate by the end of May. “We’ll go to Toronto, Deauville, Angoulême, San Sebastian, New York, Busan in Korea and even the Lumière festival in Lyon, which is a festival of contemporary and classical cinema, which will host numerous films. And with Venice, we want to go even further and present films together.”

He said that while there will be no jury or awards this year, Frémaux welcomes would’ve-been 2020 jury president Spike Lee back for the next physical edition. The Cannes director also added that Spike Lee’s new film, “Da 5 Bloods,” slated for a Netflix release on June 12, would’ve made it onto the Croisette.

“It was the surprise that he gave us and it should have marked Netflix’s return to the red carpet, Out of Competition of course. We were set for a fabulous Cannes,” Frémaux said. Films like Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” and Nanni Moretti’s “Three Stories,” he said, would’ve started at Cannes, too, but will no longer be part of the Official Selection and are now available to go elsewhere.

Organizers knew the festival was in trouble back in April, when French President Emmanuel Macron extended the nationwide lockdown and banned festivals until at least mid-July. Cannes organizers continued to be unclear in what their plans were, making the promise of a June announcement of titles an official beacon of clarity.

“It’s true that a part of the media wanted the cancellation of the festival. And a cancellation was obvious. But, with [Cannes Film Festival president] Pierre Lescure, we didn’t want to simply abandon the field and move onto the 74th edition, leaving behind all those who depend on us,” Frémaux said. “We are facing an unprecedented situation and we have taken the time to reflect and come up with a redeployment that works for everyone: we have the support of professionals and artists from the world over. I have spoken to my friends at the Tour de France, they’re exactly in the same situation.”

Read IndieWire’s April interview with Frémaux here.

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