The Cannes Film Festival has bowed to the inevitable, announcing Wednesday that it will move this year’s event from May to July, due to safety concerns around the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
“As announced last autumn, the Festival de Cannes reserved the right to change its dates depending on how the global health situation developed,” Cannes said in a statement. “Initially scheduled from 11 to 22 May 2021, the Festival will therefore now take place from Tuesday 6 to Saturday 17 July 2021.”
The move, while expected, will have a domino effect across the festival circuit. The Venice Film Festival is scheduled to kick off on Sept. 1. Cannes’ new dates mean there will be less than two months between Europe’s No. 1 and No. 2 festivals, setting up a potential confrontation as the two events compete for the world premieres and red carpet star power.
Cannes was forced to cancel the festival last year amid the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Venice was held as planned, albeit with strict safety measures, including masks and social distancing.
Berlin, Europe’s other big three festivals, has opted for a hybrid model this year. Berlin will hold an online-only event in March and an additional, in-person festival in the German capital in June.
France, along with most of Europe, remains in lockdown amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Immunization programs have been rolled out across the continent, but progress has been sluggish. France, which had hoped to inoculate a million citizens against COVID-19 by the end of January, now looks unlikely to hit that target before mid-February at the earliest. Things have been made worse with a dispute between the European Union and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca over a delay in vaccine deliveries.