In a move surprising absolutely no one, the Cannes Film Festival has officially announced the moving of this year’s ceremony. In a brief statement on the festival’s Twitter account, they detailed the shift of from the previously scheduled May 11-22 to the new dates of July 6-17, 2021.
The shift was inevitable, as it’s clear that the COVID pandemic isn’t making nearly enough progress for that May date to be a viable option for an in-person ceremony. While other festivals like last year’s Toronto International Film Festival and this week’s Sundance Film Festival have adapted to the times by shifting to a hybrid model where their selections would play in some theaters but mostly be available through virtual screenings, Cannes has been one of the holdouts that has maintained the desire to hold an exclusively in person festival.
That being said, the new July date still seems… optimistic. With new variants and troubled vaccine rollouts (not to mention all of the people that refuse to get the vaccine), along with January being the most deadly month yet for the pandemic, it’s hard to imagine that things are going to be looking better enough by July for the festival to take place, even in a scaled down capacity. One imagines that the shift to summer is in the hopes that Cannes could still happen this year without having to conflict with the competition of the fall festivals like Venice, Tribeca, and TIFF, but it’s tough to picture this going down in July as desired.
As of now, Spike Lee is still slated to be the festival’s next jury president, whenever it ends up taking place. We also presumably know at least one title that is holding out hope for a Cannes release. While it was included on last year’s “Official Selection”, essentially just a mark of acknowledgment for the fact that it would have played at last year’s festival if it had taken place, the speculation has been that Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch wasn’t included in the recent list of Searchlight release dates because they’re still hoping that Cannes debut can happen. We’ll see if we get any news on Anderson’s latest after this new development with the festival.