Organizers BFI said it was making the move with “heavy hearts”, but that “due to the scale and complexity of running a large international film festival with filmmakers set to travel to it from across the world” it had been forced to make the decision.
“BFI Flare is a very special and long standing festival with a loyal and dedicated following and we realize that this is a very disappointing situation for audiences, our staff and Festival teams and all of the incredibly talented and passionate filmmakers involved,” the org said in a statement.
“We know this decision affects individuals in different ways and we respectfully ask people to please bear with us over the next days as we work through the impacts of cancellation,” it said.
The festival added that it is looking for ways of “sharing some elements of BFI Flare digitally”.
Flare had been due to open on Wednesday, March 18, with the world premiere screening of Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare’s Cicada.
The BFI noted that its primary Southbank venue remains open “unless advice from the Government and Public Health England changes”. That’s the case for cinemas across the UK at the moment, though some, including Showcase, have introduced social distancing policies. However, the UK government is expected to introduce increased measures to combat the virus spread today.