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Phantom Cannes lineup a defiant statement of survival for festival that lives in the imagination

The Cannes 2020 branding may not mean much by the end of the year, but it’s a reminder of the wonderful alchemy that the festival can create

Cannes selects lineup for 2020 edition after ‘physical’ festival shelved

This was the phantom announcement of the phantom Cannes. A cancelled Christmas when all we got in our stockings was a list of the presents we’re not getting.

After the ending of the festival that never was, this was a ghostly – and rather fascinating – construction of the event that traditionally happens one month beforehand: the announcement of the official selection. These were the films that would have been at Cannes, and we’ll never know what categories they would have played in, when they were scheduled to play: which would have bagged the first weekend? We’ll never know how each would have gone down for each nailbiting red-carpet gala; we’ll never know how the alchemy of Cannes would have fizzed or not fizzed. Each of these films bears the Cannes brand or kitemark — which is perhaps a good deal for each contender, as it is usually only the final award-winners which end up associated with the festival. This is a bold, even defiant statement of survival from Cannes, a festival which refused to countenance the idea of putting its films online (the concept now being considered by Toronto) or delaying until the autumn, which would have meant the unthinkable diplomatic faux pas of colliding with Venice. Rather than do that, Cannes has decided on staying put on the biggest screen of all: the screen of our wistful imagination. 

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