Greece’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival and Switzerland’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Right (FIFDH) are the most recent European events upended as concerns escalate over the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Following the decision by Switzerland’s Federal Council to ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people, the 18th edition of FIFDH has been cancelled, the organization confirmed Monday (March 2).
The event, expected to welcome upwards of 40,000 attendees from 30 countries, was scheduled to get underway in Geneva this Friday (March. 6). An “adapted format” of the festival is currently in development.
“We have consulted widely, in particular with the Head of Public Health of the Canton of Geneva and the Service for the Prevention and Control of Epidemics of the HUG,” FIFDH director Isabelle Gattiker said in a statement. “Given the international nature of the Festival, the nature of the venues and the impossibility of identifying the public in the event of contamination, we received a negative advisory notice from the cantonal authorities, which led us to the regrettable but inevitable decision to cancel the 18th edition of the Festival.”
Elsewhere, in Greece, the administration of the 22nd Thessaloniki Documentary Festival also confirmed its decision Monday to postpone the event following updates from the World Health Organization and in accordance with Greece’s Ministry of Culture and Sports.
“The safety of the working staff, the audience and the city’s residents and the Festival’s guests from both Greece and abroad are our top-notch priority,” the organization stated in a release.
Administration are looking to move the festival, due to take place March 5 to 15, to late May or early June.
“A significant part of the initiatives and projects hosted by Agora, the development branch of the Festival, will be carried out via the Internet, providing the chance to accredited professionals from all over the world to watch and evaluate Greek documentaries so as to include them in their future financing projects and festival programming,” the organization stated. “Furthermore, the Docs in Progress segment will be carried out online so that awards and cash prizes are bestowed without any delay.”
The news comes just a few days after France put a ban on gatherings of 5,000 or more people less than a month before the scheduled start of Cannes-based global content market MIPTV.
MIPTV organizer Reed Midem recently postponed its global real estate conference, MIPIM, which was due to take place March 10 to 13 on the French Riviera.