Cannes 2021 Is Forging On, but It Might Face a Big Delay

content-header__row content-header__hed” data-testid=”ContentHeaderHed”>Cannes 2021 Is Forging On, but It Might Face a Big DelayAnd if it does, what does that portend for the upcoming awards season?

January 21, 2021

Director Bong Joon-Ho poses during a photocall after winning the Palme d’Or for Parasite at Cannes on May 25, 2019.By Alberto Pizzoli/Getty. 

This year’s Cannes Film Festival is forging ahead, as of now—but it might face a sizable delay. According to Variety, the 2021 iteration of the prestigious event, which traditionally unfolds in May, might get pushed back to July, batting it closer to fall festivals like Venice and the Toronto International Film Festival. An announcement about the potential changed dates will be made later this month. 

Such a delay would afford festival organizers a bit more time to cope with the ongoing threat of COVID-19, which has ravaged the world for over a year now. In 2020, organizers were forced to cancel the festival entirely due to the rising threat of the virus, though they did present a slimmed-down, three-day showcase that offered a glimpse at what the festival could have been. 

One year later coronavirus cases are still rising in many parts of the world, making it unclear what 2021’s festival will look like. A source tells Variety that Cannes will likely take place between July 5 and July 25. The syndicate of Cannes hotels was apparently alerted to the potential date changes last week. 

“We’d much prefer if the festival happens in May, obviously, but we’ve said we’ll be happy to get prepared to welcome the festival in July; the dates we’ve agreed on are between July 5–25. So the festival could start roughly around July 5 or a few days later,” the owner of a hotel situated near the Palais des Festivals told Variety. 

The change to July would typically cause mayhem for local hotel owners, as that is a big month for French tourism, Variety notes. But the pandemic has also gutted the hospitality industry, and a glitzy, high-profile festival in the middle of a typically lucrative month might provide a welcome boost to businesses, should the festival take place as planned. Cannes director Thierry Fremaux seems determined to make it happen. Last October he told Variety that organizers had contingency plans in place and that they had blocked out potential dates in August as well, in case the festival was not able to go on in May or July. 

“I hope with all my heart that the festival will take place in May,” he said at the time. “[But] if Cannes does not happen in May in the conditions we hope for, we will delay. [And] if it cannot take place under the proper conditions in May, we have solutions.” Variety also notes that Fremaux is potentially extending the festival by two days in order to fit more films into the lineup. 

A delayed Cannes would truncate the typically stuffed festival season. Considering all the attention paid to Cannes, a later 2021 event might also reinject glamour, breathless anticipation, and old-fashioned hype into festival season—qualities that were in short supply in 2020 because of the pandemic. Try as organizers did to carry on as normal, the 2020 season was hampered by the threat of the virus, leading organizers to join forces and pivot largely from in-person gatherings to online screenings and drive-in premieres. While that was the right move for organizers to make due to the devastating spread of COVID-19, it will be fascinating to see how Cannes in particular—an event known for its opulent red carpets and old-school movie worship—makes its way in this strange new world. 

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