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Cannes Film Festival postponed due to coronavirus

Spike Lee on the set of Inside Man

Story by Jack Foley

FRANCE’S Cannes Film Festival is to be postponed to delay the spread of coronavirus.

The prestigious festival, due to take place in May, may be held at the end of June, according to organisers.

Director Spike Lee, who has been appointed Cannes jury chairman this year, told industry magazine Variety: “The stuff that we love has to take a back seat. The world has changed and it’s changing every day. People are dying and France’s president has said, several times – I’m paraphrasing – ‘We are at war.’ We are in a war-like time. So many things have been postponed, and I agree with this move.”

Festival organisers said they are working with local and national governments and “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”.

Lee said he will make himself available as jury head if the festival is rescheduled.

“Let’s not forget this is the world’s biggest film festival, the world’s biggest stage for cinema and I’ll be the first black president of the jury,” he continued. “Everybody has to pray, get on bended knee, pray, we get out of this, find a vaccine, get back on our feet – physically, emotionally and financially worldwide. This is no joke. It’s not some movie. People are dying.”

Lee is considered one of America’s most influential and provocative filmmakers. He won an Oscar in 2018 for BlacKkKlansman, while other seminal works include Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, Inside Man and The 25th Hour.

In typically defiant fashion, Lee also used his interview with Variety to have a pop at US President Donald Trump, saying that having watched his daily press conferences, “the president of the United States needs to stop calling this the Chinese virus. Please stop doing that”.

“He’s putting Asian Americans in this country in danger,” he continued. “That isn’t helping at all.”

His comments echo those made earlier in the week by fellow US actor Daniel Dae Kim, who confirmed he has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

In a 10-minute video posted on Instagram, he confirmed he has tested positive for COVID-19 before then speaking out against the xenophobia and anti-Asian racism that’s risen since the coronavirus crisis began.

He said: “Please, please stop the prejudice and senseless violence against Asian people. Randomly beating elderly, sometimes homeless Asian Americans is cowardly, heartbreaking and it’s inexcusable.”

Referring to Trump’s continued reference to COVID-19 as ‘the Chinese virus’, he continued: “Yes, I’m Asian. And yes, I have coronavirus. But I did not get it from China, I got it in America. In New York City. Despite what certain political leaders want to call it, I don’t consider the place where it’s from as important as the people who are sick and dying. If I did, I would call this thing the ‘New York virus,’ but that would be silly, right?”

Cannes was previously cancelled in 1948 and 1950 due to budgetary issues, and 1968’s festival was halted midway through due to protests.

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