Sydney Film Festival has become another casualty of the coronavirus, announcing this afternoon that it has cancelled its 2020 event. It comes in the wake of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s message this morning that all indoor gatherings of more than 100 people will be temporarily banned across Australia. It will be the first time the festival, which was slated to run from June 3 to 14, has been cancelled in its 67-year history.
“In this rapidly evolving and unknown environment, the SFF [Sydney Film Festival] board and management know this is the only responsible decision – albeit a devastating one,” Sydney Film Festival chair Deanne Weir, CEO Leigh Small and festival director Nashen Moodley said in a joint statement. “However, the health and safety of our community is our first concern.”
Organisers say they mean for the festival to go ahead in 2021. Ticket holders will be contacted in the coming days, with a choice of a refund or swapping their tickets for next year. The festival’s organisers will look into celebrating films and filmmakers in other forms, in order to continue to support the industry.
Palace Cinemas has also just announced that it will be closing all its cinemas for the foreseeable future from tomorrow, March 19. The company, which has 20 cinemas around the country, has made the decision in order to “protect both our staff and patrons” it said in a statement. Cinemas will offer full refunds to customers who have already bought tickets. Palace is urging customers to purchase gift cards and memberships to use when its cinemas reopen.