The Palm Springs International Film Festival that was scheduled to be held during February-March 2021 has been cancelled due to the rising number of coronavirus cases across the world and particularly in the US.
The organizers said that they might also make some changes to the awards season next season. However, an awards presentation event will be held on 25th February 2021, and it will celebrate the best performances and movies of this year.
The change in plan comes as Covid 19 is surging across the US, and thousands of filmmakers, volunteers, partners and staff members were expected to take part in the event. Considering the safety of all the members involved in the film festival, the event has been cancelled for this year.
While the number of cases in the US has stabilized in the last few months, it is again showing signs of surging to new highs as the data coming in the last few days are not encouraging for holding such events. The same is with Europe and analysts are suspecting that a second wave is running through Europe and the pandemic has even forced some countries to go for the second round of lockdown.
Several countries in Europe are seeing an increasing trend, and the Cannes and Berlin film festivals may also be cancelled in the same way if the cases do not come down in the near future. The opening up of domestic and international travel has been blamed as the main reason for this surge in cases. Other than that, the cold season is also contributing to increased cases as many people stay indoors during winter, and it can lead to the rapid spread of infection. Scientists also claim that the virus has a better chance of surviving in cold weather conditions, and it may survive for a longer duration in this season.
Considering all these issues, many such film festivals across the world are either cancelling the events or making suitable changes to accommodate the entries. The Oscars which was scheduled to be held during April 2021 has extended the eligibility window to the end of February 2021 so that they can include more number of movies.
However, many analysts believe that they may not get a good number of entries for this season as the movie theatres are still not running in many parts of the world. In this situation, not many big-ticket movies are released in theatres, and most of them have postponed the release to next year. On the other hand, few small movies are releasing on OTT platforms and trying to make the most of this dry season.
Even Academy Awards organizers are having the same problem, and they have pushed the entries till February to accommodate more movies. The organizers said that they were expecting about 300 submissions this year. It is still not clear when and how the event will be organized considering the latest developments regarding the coronavirus cases. Not many international filmmakers are enthusiastic about attending such events during this season, and this may not be the best year for such film festivals and award ceremonies.
The Palm Springs International film festival is also an important one in the film world, and it usually begins in the month of January and followed later by the Golden Globe Awards and the Oscars. The previous Palm Springs film festival was held in the early months of 2020 before the pandemic began spreading in the US. It was a successful event that was attended by nearly 2500 guests, including several legendary actors, actresses and directors from different countries.
Southern California that is home to the Palm Springs film festival has become a hub for covid 19 in recent months, and the number of cases is rising at an alarming rate. The state has even issued a stay-at-home order and movie theatres are not opened in this region. Even though the number of cases was under control in the month of September, it has shown an increasing trend in recent weeks, and this is a cause of concern for the authorities. In this situation, managing a film festival is next to impossible. Considering all these problems, the Palm Springs film festival organizers have cancelled the event and are trying to manage a small event instead of the regular film festival.
In recent months, the Cannes film festival was conducted online, and they cancelled the regular events that would attract thousands of guests from the film industry. Not only Cannes, but many other international film festivals went online and avoided conducting regular events due to the rising number of covid 19 cases. In this situation, the Venice Film Festival was the major event of the industry, and it got a decent response from filmmakers around the world.
Many filmmakers are expecting that even the Oscars and other major award events may be conducted online this year due to safety restriction across several countries. Many countries are heading into lockdown, and they may open only in the early part of next year. Even if they open in the month of January or February, international travel may not be allowed for some more time as there is a threat of a second wave of coronavirus sweeping the globe.
Most of the online film festivals and award ceremonies lacked the usual charm as they did not have big-ticket entertaining movies like every year. As many big movies were not released this year due to the pandemic, the organizers had to manage with whatever entries they managed to get in this season. Considering these factors, the audience seems to have lost the interest to watch such events, and even international filmmakers are not taking the risk to travel for such events.
The surprising thing about this year’s Venice film festival was that it lacked a number of big Hollywood films. Apart from that, several covid 19 protocols were in place for the event as it was held recently in September. It was not a notable event in the larger sense but managed to get a lot of attention as this was the only major film festival in this season.