It has been like drip torture. First we saw the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters tennis tournament cancelled. We still had a small hope that the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix could still take place if the Coronavirus crisis would pass before May. The Cannes Film Festival was reported to be considering postponing and it remained a dream that the Monaco Grand Prix might, if also postponed, follow a new date that we were awaiting to hear for Cannes.
And that hope was given a boost when Formula 1 announced it was postponing three Grand Prix races, including the Monaco Grand Prix, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, not more than hours later, the Automobile Club de Monaco, the organizers of the Monaco race, announced its cancellation.
Did you know that this is the first time for more than half a century that the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix will not take place – in fact the last occasion it was not run was 66 years ago in 1954. Monegasques remember the 1955 race though – it was when Louis Chiron scored points and at 56 became the oldest driver to compete in a Formula One Grand Prix.
We still haven’t been advised when and if the first race of the Grand Prix season will take place. It seemed it would start on June 7 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but recent announcements put that in doubt. Then it seemed that the Canadian Grand Prix could be the season opener but Canada had just pulled out of the Olympics even before it was announced the Olympics would be postponed to 2021. That leaves the French Grand Prix on June 28 as a possible season opener, but there is a question mark on that too.
The following meeting is the Austrian GP on 5 July, followed by the British Grand Prix on 19 July. Perhaps July will host the opening meeting. So the first seven events on the 2020 calendar have therefore been postponed or cancelled, and the championship can only be started when it is safe to do so.
The only thing we are certain of is the F1 season is currently planned to end on November 29 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but it is possible it may be extended to reintroduce some races that have been postponed. A total of 8 races with 12 cars must be completed for the championship to be valid according to the FIA.
Cannes Film Festival
Will it, won’t it happen and when? The duration of the very sad ongoing confinement in France and the rest of the world remains unknown. Unsurprisingly at least, the Cannes Film Festival has announced that its 73rd edition cannot be held on the scheduled dates, from May 12 to 23rd. The press release though doesn’t give us any clues as to a new date saying just that “several assumptions are under examination one of which could be a simple ‘report’ at the end of June”.
For the time being, the position it appears they continue to take is there is no question of cancelling this 73rd edition, chaired by Spike Lee, but rather of postponing it later. There have only been two cancellations in the whole history of the Cannes Film Festival. No-one wants a third.
In 1939, the very first festival had to be cancelled due to the start of World War II. Everything was ready to go on the first day and then on September 1, 1939, when fifteen countries were already lined up, including having Louis Lumière as president of the jury, and with an array of famous movie stars parading aboard their yachts, Germany invaded Poland. It wasn’t until the war was finally over that the first festival could be held in 1946.
The other cancellation of the Cannes Film Festival was in 1968. The event began as if nothing had happened, with many celebrities on the red carpet. Then in sympathy with the student revolts of that year Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut led protests that shut down the Festival. Godard is reported as putting it bluntly, talking solidarity with students and workers, colourfully showing disdain for “dolly shots and close-ups” at a time of national upheaval.
So on May 19, after the resignation of several members of the jury, numerous student demonstrations and political controversy within the competition itself the 1968 Festival was cancelled without any trophies being awarded.
But the history on the 73rd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 2020 has not yet been finally written. All we can say with certainty is that it will not take place in May. 2020 is the year of sad surprises so far. Let’s hope it ends on a more optimistic note.