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The Cannes Film Festival Goes Virtual This Year

The coronavirus has thrown the entire world into disarray, with almost every major event, be it sporting or cultural, having to be cancelled or postponed in the face of this pandemic. Any event which would have people gathering and coming in contact with each other is unfeasible now, and probably for many months to go as well. With such strict social distancing measures in place, organizers are having to come up with innovative ways if their events are to continue taking place, and the Cannes Film Festival is an example of one which has truly embraced the times we are living in at the moment.

The Film Festival itself is still holding out and waiting to see if the situation improves before making any decision on how to hold the festival this year, but meanwhile, Cannes’ Marche du Film, which is the business equivalent of the festival and one of the biggest film markets in the world, has decided to go virtual this year. Set to take place from 22nd to 26th June, the market will be hosted on Cinando, an online network for film professionals, and will have a fee of $95 till 29th May, after which registrations will cost $195.

The online event is intended to mimic the actual proceedings, with live meetings, networking opportunities and film screenings for those participating. Some of the features to be included are virtual booths for sales agents, in an online equivalent of a sales booth at the market, virtual pavillions for institutions to display their national cinematography, film commissions and filming locations, again akin to their pavillions in the Village International at the festival, video meetings through the Match&Meet app on the Marche du Film network, and online screenings of movies and project presentations. While of course, nothing can compare to the actual interactions which would take place at the market, this is an attempt to replicate it online as far as possible to allow participants to still conduct their business, despite the restrictions posed by the pandemic. Given the uncertainty about the pandemic and whether any events will be possible during the second half of the year, including the Cannes film festival, this is still a noteworthy attempt to keep things going and try and carry out business as usual.

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At the same time, the film industry is trying to play its part in helping people during this crisis. With land-based casinos being shut for the foreseeable future, there was an innovative fundraising solution created by Hollywood superstars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who used an online casino for real money to raise $1.75 million for Feeding America. The duo organized an online charity poker tournament with a minimum buy-in of $10,000, with the proceeds going to Feeding America, and a number of celebrities joined the game, with the likes of Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, NFL superstar Tom Brady, Oscar nominee Adam Sandler, and former Spider-Man Tobey Maguire just a few of the illustrious names to join the table. With professional poker commentators and a few pro poker players as participants as well, the tournament had quite a ‘real’ feel, with pro player Ebony Kenney walking away with the win eventually, beating Kevin Pollack who finished second. Cranston ended up in a noteworthy fifth position, with Maguire also doing well amongst the celebrity participants.

With the world thrown into chaos, such initiatives are needed to ensure that the weakest among us are still taken care of, and kudos must go out to Damon and Affleck for being innovative enough to create such an event and raise vital funding for a very important cause.