CANNES FILM FESTIVAL POSTPONED, POTENTIALLY TO JUNE OR JULY

Organizers of the French Riviera festival, scheduled to take place May 12-23, said Thursday that they are considering moving the festival to the end of June or the beginning of July.

FILE - This May 13, 2019 file photo shows a view of the Palais des festivals during the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France. Arguably the world’s most prestigious film festival and cinema’s largest annual gathering has postponed its 73rd edition. Organizers of the French Riviera festival, scheduled to take place May 12-23, said they are considering moving the festival to the end of June or the beginning of July. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK — France’s Cannes Film Festival, arguably the world’s most prestigious film festival and cinema’s largest annual gathering, has postponed its 73rd edition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers of the French Riviera festival, scheduled to take place May 12-23, said Thursday that they are considering moving the festival to the end of June or the beginning of July.

“As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known,” the festival said in a statement.

Organizers had been extremely reluctant to cancel Cannes. For weeks, its organizers deflected questions and tried to push through its selection process.

But as the pandemic spread through France, it became all but inevitable that a massive gathering like Cannes would be cancelled. On Saturday, France’s Prime Minister Édouard Philippe ordered the closure of all restaurants, cafes and cinemas in France to increase social distancing and combat the virus.

Other major film festivals, including South by Southwest and the Tribeca Film Festival, have already been scuttled. But some hope held out that Cannes, taking place closer to summer, might yet survive.

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

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