Cancellations of CPH:DOX opening gala and Malmö’s M:Brane Financing Forum for Kids are the latest repercussions of the spread of Covid-19 virus.
Today, CPH:DOX organisers issued a press release stating that the festival’s opening gala set to unfold March 17, 2020 at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, was cancelled “on the basis of the latest recommendations by the [Danish Health] authorities not to hold events with more than 1,000 participants.”
The 17th edition of the major documentary film festival was due to open with the screening of the Danish film The Fight for Greenland by Kenneth Sorento, which will now be shown at seven smaller venues in the Danish capital.
Speaking to nordicfilmandtvnews.com, CPH:DOX Deputy Director and Head of Industry & Training Katrine Kiilgaard said “the opening gala was the only major screening for more than 1,000 people, but all other festival screenings will be held in normal venues [with seating capacity of 150-600]. The festival will therefore comply with the Danish health authorities’ recommendations, and will be held as planned [March 18-29],” she said, adding that the festival stays in close contact with Danish authorities to follow daily updates and recommendations.
Regarding industry attendance, Kiilgaard said that travel bans on employees imposed notably by US organisations and public TV stations, were having - for the moment - a minimum backlash. “As of now [Monday March 9], we have had cancellations from 55 out of approximately 1,900 delegates across the festival programme, so we are still optimistic,” she commented. Meanwhile to support delegates unable to attend the popular CPH:FORUM industry sidebar unspooling March 24-26, Kiilgaard said FORUM organisers were planning to hold virtual meetings.
In neighbouring Sweden, the kids financing forum M:Brane due to take place March 10-12 in Malmö was also cancelled by its organisers for health safety reasons, in the context of the substantial Covid-19 spread in recent days, both in Sweden and internationally, and subsequent cancellation from key decision makers. The B2B platform for financiers and creators of content for kids, was expecting more than 200 industry delegates from 25 countries, with a strong delegation from the country in Focus Canada.
Unlike M:Brane, the kids & youth film festival BUFF in Malmö was sticking to its plan to unfold March 21-27. “We are moving forward as planned but we keep updated on the recommendations from the Swedish government’s health authorities, the city of Malmö and the region of Skåne,” told festival director Julia Jarl to nordicfilmandtvnews.com. “We have sent our invited guests an email with our updated travelling policy. The information we have is that at the moment, the virus is not spreading in Malmö," said Jarl.
As governments around the globe are ramping up measures to stop the spread of the virus, major international film & TV events that have decided to postpone their dates include Canneseries, Hong Kong Filmart, Beijing Film Festival, while cancelled events count MIPTV in Cannes and SXSW in Austin Texas.
At press time, the maintenance of the major TV drama event Series Mania in Lille (March 20-28) and Cannes Film Festival (May 12-23) was still a major question mark, following the French government’s announcement on Sunday evening that it would ban public gathering of more than 1,000 people, besides those viewed as “useful to the interest of the nation.”
Quizzed by nordicfilmandtvnews.com about the fate of Series Mania 2020, the TV drama festival's international spokesperson Claire Vorger said she had "no real answer" to provide for the moment. "What we know, as of today [Monday], is that the festival isn’t cancelled and Laurence Herszberg [director general] wants us to move forward as long as we can. Of course, we need - and work hard - to adjust the event, based on the rules of the French government and official decisions by the health authorities.”
While waiting for France to reach the inevitable stage 3 of the epidemic, Vorger said Series Mania was reaching out to all of its guests and speakers “to check their availabilities and/or restrictions from their country and/or company. We will continue to keep everyone informed as we receive more updates,” she asserted.
From an industry perspective, Peter Bose, co-founder of the Scandinavian content powerhouse Miso Film, said the cancellation of MIPTV and other key industry events is having ‘a very serious impact’ on his business. “These markets are always important for us to meet our key clients and discuss projects,” he noted, mentioning that Miso Film’s owners Fremantle had also imposed travel bans to all its staff and affiliates, unless ‘urgent production matters’ needed to be addressed. “Coronavirus is having a disastrous effect for our industry and we follow the daily updates extremely seriously,” he added.
As of March 9, 109,578 cases of Covid-19 have been reported worldwide, with China, South Korea and Italy being hit most severely by the virus.
According to the World Health Organisation, Sweden has the highest number of cases in the Nordics (203), followed by Norway (169), Iceland (55), Denmark (36), and Finland (30).