if the Cannes Film Festival is canceled, the film market will be virtual

While the president of the Cannes festival Pierre Lescure announced that the decision to maintain or not the meeting, according to the evolution of the epidemic of Covid-19, would be taken on April 15, the film market is developing already a digital solution for professionals.

Second world media event after the Olympic Games, the Cannes festival brings together thousands of people every year for ten days in the reduced area of ​​the city of Cannes and in particular the Croisette, its seaside. containment, due to the coronavirus epidemic, have been decreed for a fortnight, before perhaps being extended, is the Cannes rally still possible? The film market could be sanctuarized thanks to digital solutions.

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Two cinemas for more than a thousand people, packed from 8 am to after midnight; hours of side-by-side queues in front of the red carpet, and other spaces hosting the festival's various selections; a film market confined to the basement with thousands of professionals from around the world … These are all factors that cast doubt on the fact that the Cannes film festival planned for May 12 to 23 will continue in these times of pandemic and generalized confinement.

Given the international development of Covid-19, which is gradually affecting the entire planet, continent after continent, country by country, it is difficult to see how the expected festival-goers from around the world could move. International air traffic, already reduced, may still be impacted in May. We can hardly imagine how the Asian countries, China in the first place, would accept the risk of sending its nationals to Cannes, when it is just emerging from the crisis. And we know that this exit will be, for all, all countries, very gradual, in order to reach a satisfactory health security level.

The crowd photographs the stars parading on the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP)

The United States has just entered the crisis, like the American subcontinent (Mexico, Brazil, Chile, etc.), Great Britain is counting on an auto-immune health policy, Italy has just exceeded the contamination rate and death experienced by China over a similar period. Not to mention France approaching it. So many anxiety-provoking factors. Is the planet able to organize the biggest film festival in the world in such a climate?

The date of May 15, announced by Pierre Lescure to settle the question, corresponds to the day before the official press conference of the festival where the official selection of the films selected is presented. The film market has taken the lead. Its executive director Jérôme Paillard revealed on Wednesday March 18 in the columns of the professional magazine Le Film Français online, that a solution “digital“was under study to prepare for the post-pandemic life of cinema.”This virtual film market is based on two axes: the organization of online screenings for all sellers and buyers, and virtual meeting rooms via our Match & Meet application“, he says.

The entry of the Marche du Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.
The entry of the Marche du Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. (BOESL / DPA)

Organizers have been working on the problem for several weeks, in order to limit the serious economic damage that could weaken cinema professionals. Already affected by the postponements in cascades of film releases in countries that have taken containment measures, such as China at the worst time of the crisis, and today Italy, Spain or France, and undoubtedly d 'others to come, the outright removal of the world's largest film market, would jeopardize the immediate sustainability of the film industry.

And what about the current and future shoots themselves, which require a large staff on the sets? Not to mention the insurers who could raise their prices to protect actors, directors and technicians.

In the event of the outright suppression of the festival, the Film market will rely on meetings by videoconference, a solution that has been very developed for companies since the start of confinement in France. In concrete terms, international sellers will be able to book and secure time slots for online screenings and invite whomever they want.

This virtual market, which will use technology (the Film market database), will also take account of time zones by allowing offset projections. “There will be a paid accreditation at a reduced rate”, underlines Jérôme Paillard. A reduction of around 50% over the normal price would be envisaged. The operation would cover the dates reserved for the festival market (May 12-21).

The official Cannes festival website makes no reference to threats to its development. The press conference of March 16 is maintained, without referring to the confirmation of the latter, expected on the 15th.
Rumors of cancellation or postponement, notably relayed in Le Point magazine on Thursday March 12, prompted a quick response from American professionals.

The logo of the Hollywood district overlooking Los Angeles (California).
The Hollywood neighborhood logo that overlooks Los Angeles (California). (ALIZEE PALOMBA / ONLY WORLD)

They announced that the CAA talent agency is about to organize its own virtual trading room. This initiative would have convinced several major companies in the sector, including AGC Studios, FilmNation, Miramax, Mister Smith, STX, Voltage or Wild Bunch, according to Le Film Français.

For Jérôme Paillard, this American replica would complement Cannes, rather than compete. Rough competition, many major film festivals, such as Venice and Toronto, which appear in September, just like Berlin (which takes place in February), having successfully developed their own film market. Toronto is particularly favored by the Americans because of the geographic proximity. However, these crucial events for professionals must be maintained.


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