At this time of year, our media team would usually be reminiscing about busy days networking and nights spent exploring the cinematic delights on offer at the Cannes Film Festival.
Not this year. Like many other events in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the Cannes Film Festival being cancelled for only the second time in its 72-year history. As with many creative industries, the pandemic has dealt the film industry a disproportionately severe blow. Events like this are the lifeblood of the industry, letting film-makers finally showcase the results of months of hard work and letting people network and forge connections which may result in exciting new ventures. It was a bleak prospect to miss this altogether.
However, the spirit of Cannes would not be that easily beaten and an online alternative was set up. A full selection of films was selected for 2020, and attendees could sign up, view the selection, join a wide selection of seminars and network with other industry professionals, all through online channels.
This leads to the big question – did it work? The effort was commendable, and no doubt difficult to pull together when events of this kind have never had to deal with anything like this before. There were some technical difficulties and obviously sending messages out to organise potential meetings is never going to be the same as the organic spontaneity of meeting people face to face and engaging with each other at the festival.
Despite this, the Alliotts team had some interesting meetings with producers and film-makers who have not let the pandemic dampen their enthusiasm and their visions. Once the world can return to normal, there will certainly be some exciting projects in the pipeline for 2021. There was of course the added bonus of much more streamlined and productive meetings without the distractions of fine food, wine, beaches and sunshine!
Online versions will never be a preferable alternative to events like Cannes, which has become such an iconic event that many in the industry look forward to all year. The effort however, to keep the energy, the enthusiasm and the pace alive was greatly appreciated by many. Hopefully next year will see a return to the festival we all know so well.