Cannes Film Festival Will Not Go Digital Come What May, Says Chief Thierry Fremaux

The Cannes Film Festival, now postponed to the end of June or beginning of July – from its original May 12 slot – because of the coronavirus pandemic (with France being one of the biggest sufferers) will not go the digital way, come what may.

There is still a big question mark over the Festival. Will it be held at all this year?

The Festival Director, Thierry Fremaux, told the media the other day: “For Cannes, its soul, its history, its efficiency, it’s a model that wouldn’t work. What is a digital festival? A digital competition? We should start by asking rights holders if they agree.

“Films by Wes Anderson or Paul Verhoeven on a computer? Discovering ‘Top Gun 2’ or (Pixar’s) ‘Soul’ elsewhere than in theatre? These movies have been postponed to be shown on a big s screen; why would we want to show them before, on a digital device?”

He said that film directors and producers were driven by the idea of screening their works on the big screen. They do not want these to end on an iPhone.

The digital idea is is also fraught with issues like piracy.

Fremaux said that his Festival was carrying on with the selections, and with France hoping to reach the peak in Coronavirus infection soon, a ray of hope appears to be emerging. Over 9000 people are already dead in France.

Fremaux's thoughts on the subject of Cannes never happening via streaming sites have been similar to what the Venice chief, Alberto Barbera, said earlier. He is also completely against turning his Festival digital. But, yes, Venice has time on its side. For, it is scheduled to start on September 2.

Over the years, Cannes and Venice have proved to be great launchpads for movies, many of them having got into the Oscar race.

Also, Fremaux runs another Festival at Lyon every year in memory of the Lumiere Brothers, who discovered cinema in 1895. Fremaux's love for the big screen is undoubtedly pure and without reservations.

(Gautaman Bhaskaran is author, commentator and movie critic)

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