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Cannes Film Festival confirms new July dates

The Cannes Film Festival has announced new July dates, ending weeks of speculation over whether it would be able to go ahead on its traditional May dates amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The festival will now run from July 6-17, 2021, rather than on its originally announced dates of May 11-22, 2021.

Cannes confirmed the move in a short statement on Wednesday afternoon: “As announced last autumn, the Festival de Cannes reserved the right to change its dates depending on how the global health situation developed. Initially scheduled from 11 to 22 May 2021, the Festival will therefore now take place from Tuesday 6 to Saturday 17 July 2021.”

The decision comes amid continuing uncertainty in Europe and North America over when the year-long Covid-19 pandemic will start to ease. Much of Europe is living under some sort of lockdown with expectations that restrictions could get tougher in the coming weeks in some territories.

In France, the government is examining whether to impose a third national lockdown with a decision expected in the coming days.

The country is living at present under a partial lockdown with people encouraged to work from home where possible and a 6pm national curfew in place, although schools are still open.

Cannes’s decision to announce new dates now rather than hold out for its traditional May dates for as long as possible will likely be greeted with relief by the film industry which has been grappling with the uncertainty of the situation.

French sales agents canvassed by Screen earlier in the month all cast doubts on Cannes’s May plans and emphasised the need for clarity as early as possible.

The shift in the Cannes dates will have a knock-on effect for the rest of the festival calendar. The Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, for example, is working towards July 2-10, 2021 dates.

However, the special summer events of the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Berlinale, created to complement their online winter events, are both scheduled to run in June and will be finished by the time Cannes kicks off.

Questions will also continue to swirl on what format Cannes will take and how many international professionals will be able to travel to France by July. The expectation is that the Cannes Marché du Film will be a hybrid event even if the festival remains loyal to physical premieres on the big screen.

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