Amid the coronavirus epidemic, organizers of the Beijing International Film Festival have indefinitely postponed the event which was set to take place from April 19-26 this year. The move was expected as China has now recorded 80,735 cases of Covid-19 and 3,119 deaths. However, the National Health Commission said there were only 40 new cases recorded on Sunday, the lowest daily increase since reporting began in January.
The Beijing Festival’s organizing committee said it was moving the event to an unspecified date in order to ensure the safety and health of all guests, participants and the public, as well as to coordinate with the overall epidemic prevention work in the city. A new date will be announced “as soon as possible,” it added.
Chinese cinemas have been closed since late January amid the outbreak which has now spread on a global level. There is still no official word as to when they may again open. We continue to hear that a best case scenario would be in time for the May 1 holiday, while July is a worst case being floated. The scrapping of the Beijing event is not very encouraging.
However, we are also hearing that movie theaters in some areas that have been thus far unaffected by Covid-19 may be operating. We are cautioned that this is not on a grand scale, nor are attendance levels clear — ticketing site Maoyan is not showing any data (its box office page has an image of its signature cat at rest on a bubble that reads “nothing.”). There have been no releases since titles were pulled from the Lunar New Year period in January.
For the moment, the Shanghai Film Festival, which runs in June, is still scheduled to go ahead. Other events outside China including Hong Kong Filmart, Mip-TV in Cannes and SXSW in the U.S., have been canceled in the face of the virus.