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Pierre Lescure remains "reasonably optimistic" about the 73rd Cannes Film Festival


- The Cannes president has been talking about the impact of the coronavirus and the possible scenarios that could play out for the 73rd edition of the gathering (12-23 May)

Pierre Lescure remains "reasonably optimistic" about the 73rd Cannes Film Festival
Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux during the 2016 César Awards ceremony (© Georges Biard)

"We remain reasonably optimistic, and hope that the peak of the epidemic will have passed by the end of March and that we can breathe a bit easier in April, but we are not being reckless. If that’s not the case, we will cancel it." Yesterday evening, Pierre Lescure, the president of the Cannes Film Festival, spoke out in the daily newspaper Le Figaro (read the article in French here) to give a realistic analysis of the still-uncertain prognosis for the 73rd edition of the event, in light of the spread of the coronavirus. As things stand, the gathering is still due to unspool on the Croisette in two months’ time (12-23 May). 

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In the meantime, the team headed up by Artistic Director Thierry Frémaux is pressing on with its work in the run-up to a press conference on Thursday 16 April, where the Official Selection will be unveiled.

As for the financial side of things, Pierre Lescure went into detail about the Cannes Film Festival’s recent refusal to take out an insurance-policy option for epidemics and pandemics. "An offer was made to us around ten days ago, but it was totally out of proportion," stated the festival president. "They were only suggesting to cover us to the tune of €2 million, whereas our budget stands at €32 million. It was really peanuts. The company was obviously just playing the bounty hunter, and of course we turned down the offer. It’s not a big deal, because we have some reserves, and the endowment fund that we set up allows us to survive at least one year with no income."

But this financial complacency is obviously all relative, as the Cannes Film Festival generates more than €195 million in economic knock-on effects. In addition, and above all, such complacency would not be shared by Cannes’ parallel sections, with the Directors’ Fortnight and the Critics’ Week at risk of “bankruptcy” should the 2020 edition be cancelled, according to Cineuropa’s sources.

Interestingly, the decree of 9 March 2020 covering measures relating to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 currently prohibits gatherings bringing together more than 1,000 people simultaneously in France until 15 April (not including regional exemptions for meetings to ensure the continuity of daily life in the country, apart from when local circumstances make this impossible). Incidentally, according to the 20 minutes website (read the article in French here), it would seem that the Cannes Film Festival has already considered the option of reducing the capacity of its theatres (the 2,309 seats in the Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière could therefore be pared down to the 853 seats in the stalls if the balcony and its 1,456 seats were closed off; the Debussy Theatre, for its part, is just over the capacity threshold, as it can host a maximum of 1,068 people).

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(Translated from French)

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