Shanghai Film Festival Scrapped in Response to China’s COVID Flare-ups

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It’s official: The 25th Shanghai International Film Festival is canceled.

Organizers Monday confirmed what industry leaders had long predicted — that China’s biggest and most respected cinema event would be cancelled this year due to ongoing Omicron epidemics in China and Beijing’s strict “COVID Zero” policy.

The Shanghai festival is usually held in June, but organizers remained mum about the event’s fate during the two-month lockdown. Officials from the festival released a short statement Monday afternoon stating that the event had been formally delayed until 2023. This marks the third consecutive year of unusual operation for China’s longest-running cinema festival.

“Due the impact of the novel coronavirus panademic, the Shanghai International Film Festival Organising Committee has decided that next year’s 25th Shanghai International Film Festival will be moved to June 2022,.

The festival moved from June to August, after the first half of the year saw cinemas closed in response to China’s coronavirus pandemic. The summer of 2021, saw most people in China return to normal as the virus was mostly eradicated within China’s borders. Although the festival took place during the normal June window, strict restrictions on travel meant that it was almost exclusively a local event with very few international guests or participants. Today, Shanghai’s current situation is indicative of China’s overall state: While international festivals like the Cannes Film Festival have been able to function as usual despite the virus thanks to high vaccination rates and previous infection rates, China’s film industry continues to be hampered by a strict zero-tolerance policy.

Festival organizers stated that they would consider putting on the festival in the fall or early winter if China’s health conditions improve in the second half of the year. “We would like to express our deepest gratitude and sincere apologies for all those who support the Shanghai International Film Festival,” said organizers. “If conditions allow, we will organize and hold relevant film festivals as well as themed events in the second-half of this year .”

Shanghai was released from its two-month COVID lockdown. This sparked celebrations in the streets and parks. However, movie theaters were still closed and recent mass testing has already shown a slight rebound of infection rates in certain areas. Multiple districts were put back under lockdown on June 3. More than 2 million people remained in their homes.

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