In an official statement, Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival said: "No one knows what the second half of the year may bring [due to the Covid-19 outbreak] and whether it will be possible to organise major film events again in 2020, including the Festival de Cannes". 

"Cannes has therefore decided to adapt its format for this peculiar year. Here's a first initiative: a Marché du Film Online, launched by Jérôme Paillard, Executive Director of the Marché. This brand new kind of market is organised in consultation and with the participation of many professionals from all over the world."

Paillard added: "In this challenging situation, the film industry is expressing a need for a spring rendez-vous before the summer. A survey we conducted last week among distributors around the world reveals that 80% of them are interested in an online market and 66% have the capacity to make acquisitions (mainly of completed films but also of films in post-production and writing). We won't replace the Cannes experience with the Marché du Film Online, but we are recreating part of its essence online by offering professionals an efficient and cutting-edge platform to screen films, buy them, finance projects and meet partners. We’re also experimenting a new market model that will allow professionals who didn't have the means or the time to come to Cannes to participate".

Indeed, the more affordable cost of the online Marché accreditation which includes one-year subscription to the industry platform Cinando, ranges from €95 for an ‘early bird rate’ (until May 29) to €195 after. This compares to a fee range of €319 to €433 for a normal Marché badge that was available last year.

The virtual market is intended “to mimic” the physical market experience in Cannes, with live and real-time meetings. It will offer the following facilities:

  • Virtual booths for Sales agents, whereby sales companies will be able to display their new films and projects in an online space meant to replace their Cannes booth,
  • Online Screenings for films completed or in post-production and project presentations, to be programmed in about fifteen virtual cinemas, “to maintain the market momentum and allow time for viewing and negotiation.” Re-runs will be organised for buyers in different time zones. The platform will use Cinando's technology.
  • Virtual pavilions for Institutions where Institutions will be able to present their activities and organise virtual meetings, mimicking their physical experience at the Village International.
  • Video Meetings, available to participants wishing to set up meetings via the Marché du Film networking app Match and Meet, which now integrates video calls.
  • Online Conferences for various Marché sections such as Cannes Docs, Cannes Next, Producers Network, Goes to Cannes, Frontières or Fantastic 7.The online Marché will also offer speed meetings around composers, book publishers or producers.  

Finally Cannes XR, dedicated to immersive entertainment, will present its projects in an environment where films can be viewed with a VR headset.

The Marché du Film held parallel to the Cannes Film Festival has since 1959 been a must-attend spring platform and networking place for global film sales, distributors, producers and creators. Last year over 2,768 films were offered for sale including 332 documentaries and 11,500 accreditations were registered.

Meanwhile at press time, the Cannes Film Festival was still pondering on the new shape that its 73rd edition might take, following the French government’s decision to extend until mid-July a ban on large public gatherings including festivals due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Cannes sidebars Critics’ Week, the Directors’ Fortnight and ACID announced last week that they are cancelling their 2020 editions, but added in a statement that they are still “looking at the best way to keep on supporting the films submitted to their 2020 edition,” in conjunction with the Cannes Film Festival.