How Each Major Film Festival Is Responding to the Coronavirus


The empty scene in front of the Venice Film Festival headquarters.
Photo: NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It is hard to think of an event less suited to the age of the coronavirus than a film festival — thousands of strangers from all over the globe coming together to sit in packed screening rooms for a few hours and, if they’re lucky, mingle at an after-party where they’ll have a chance to share hors d’oeuvre with an Oscar winner. As the film industry spends its fourth month in lockdown, the red stairs, elegant gowns, and swanky parties are no more. In a postapocalyptic touch, the Boulevard de la Croisette is being patrolled not by paparazzi but by a feral boar:

Hope springs eternal that festivals will occur again at some point. As Parasite’s Best Picture–winning campaign proved, nothing creates buzz for a movie like a successful fest premiere, and for Oscar-watchers, the late-summer trio of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto separates the season’s wheat from the chaff, the Roma from the Life Itself. There are supply-side incentives preventing this year’s slate from being canceled outright, too: Many festivals provide the revenue that funds their parent operations the rest of the year. Finally, many in the industry have clung to the return of festivals as a symbolic step on the road to normal, a sign that movies are finally back.


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