Cannes President “Reasonably Optimistic” Festival Will Take Place But Event Will Cancel If Coronavirus Situation Doesn’t Improve

Pierre Lescure
Pierre Lescure Laurent Vu/SIPA/Shutterstock

Cannes Film Festival president Pierre Lescure has given an interview in which he admitted the festival will cancel if the coronavirus situation does not improve in France by next month.

Speaking to local outlet Le Figaro, Lescure said Wednesday that the fest remains “reasonably optimistic in the hope that the peak of the epidemic will be reached at the end of March and that we will breathe a little better in April.”

However, he added that they were “not oblivious” and that if the situation doesn’t improve, they will cancel this edition.

He also responded to a media report Tuesday claiming the festival had surprisingly declined an insurance policy to cover itself for epidemics a couple of weeks ago, which was offered to organizers by firm Circle Group.

“This offer was made to us about ten days ago, but it was totally disproportionate,” said Lescure. “We were only offered to cover ourselves up to $2.3 million (€2 million) while our budget is $36 million (€32 million). It was really peanuts. The company was clearly playing the bounty hunters and we of course declined this proposal.”

Therefore, the fest will not be covered in the instance of a cancellation, even if the government forces it to shutter. Lescure, however, said the event has an endowment fund that will allow it to survive skipping an edition, if necessary. “We have a setup that allows us to face at least one year without revenue,” he commented.

That means Cannes may be in a better position than the embattled SXSW, which canceled its 2020 edition and had to lay off 50 employees, nearly one-third of its staff, as a result.

The coronavirus situation in France has escalated in recent days. Last night, French leader Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation saying his government would take “all measures necessary” to combat the virus spread, adding that it “mustn’t give in to panic.”

However, he also said that the country is “only at the beginning of this epidemic.” France has north of 1,600 confirmed cases to date and has seen 30 deaths, making it the third-worst affected Euro nation behind Italy and Spain. Yesterday, the country’s culture minister tested positive for the virus. In response, containment measures have been introduced including banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people, the cancelling of various events, and widespread closing of schools.

Today, TV event Series Mania was canceled.

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