BFI Flare film festival latest Coronavirus casualty

The BFI has cancelled its Flare Film Festival, just two days before it was due to begin.

The BFI said the “very special and long standing festival” was cancelled “with heavy hearts.”

In a statement, the organisation said: “It’s with heavy hearts that we announce that, because of the scale and complexity of running a large international film festival with filmmakers due to travel from across the world, the BFI has taken the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves.”

The BFI said that because of its regular programme of films, screened throughout the year, it would be impossible to reschedule the festival but it said it was looking at ways to make the programme available to ticket-holders online. For anyone not interested in this option, refunds will be available.

The organisers said the large number of international guests and additional events made the festival untenable, but stressed that BFI Southbank remained open and operational, subject to any changes in advice from the Government and Public Health England.

The festival is the latest consequence of the Coronavirus worldwide to the film industry, with several major films – including No Time To Die, A Quiet Place 2 and Peter Rabbit 2 – having their releases postponed and cinemas in some of the industry’s biggest markets, Los Angeles and New York being closed.

There are also big questions over whether the world’s most prestigious film festival, in Cannes, and the associated market, will be able to take place, against the background of tough restrictions on mass gatherings by the French government and travel restrictions that are continuing to spread across the world. The organisers of Cannes are expected to make an announcement next month, ahead of the event, scheduled for May.