The coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of the Series Mania international TV festival, which was due to unspool from March 20-28 in Lille in northern France.

As IF reported, Porchlight Films’ Operation Buffalo (formerly Fallout), an espionage thriller set during the British nuclear tests in outback South Australia in the 1950s, was scheduled to have its world premiere at the festival.

Four other Aussie series were to have been showcased: See-Saw Films’ The End (International Panorama section), Lingo Pictures’ Upright (Midnight Comedies), Playmaker Media’s The Commons (International Showcase) and Blackfella Films’ Total Control (European premiere).

Rachel Griffiths had been invited to serve on the international jury and Lingo Pictures’ Helen Bowden had been asked to sit on the international short films jury.

More than 3,000 industry figures had been expected to attend. More than 72,000 people bought tickets at last year’s edition.

Meanwhile Tom Hanks, who is in Queensland playing Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley movie for Warner Bros., has revealed that he and his wife Rita Wilson have the virus.

“Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?,” Hanks posted on Instagram.

The death toll in France from the novel coronavirus outbreak has risen to 33 and the number of cases has reached 1,784.

The government had banned indoor events of more than 5,000 people until April 15 but the the country’s health minister has reduced that to 1,000.

With France preparing to escalate to an alert level that would mean widespread school and transit closures, plus travel restrictions affecting international attendees, this year’s edition of Series Mania became untenable.

The festival’s founder and director general Laurence Herszberg Tweeted: “We tried everything but unfortunately we have to cancel @FestSeriesMania. #SeriesMania must remain an exceptional event, this year we could not have offered it to you with the same ambition. Thank you for being so many who have been so loyal to us. We will be there in 2021.”

This follows the cancellation of MIPTV and the postponement of Canneseries to Mipcom in October.

Among other events that have been shelved are SXSW, which was due to take place in Austin, Texas, from March 13 to 22, the CinemaCon movie convention in Las Vegas, RAI TV’s Cartoons on the Bay in Italy, Geneva’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and Hong Kong’s International Film & TV Market.

As IF reported, Sony Pictures has pushed back the launch of Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway from March 19 to September 10 and Universal Pictures postponed the 007 adventure No Time to Die from April 8 to November 12.

Poland, India, Lebanon and Kuwait are the latest countries to entirely or partially close cinemas.

At this stage the Cannes Film Festival is still set to run from May 12-23. Festival president Pierre Lescure told Le Figaro he is “reasonably optimistic” it will go ahead in hopes the epidemic will reach its peak at the end of March and that “we will breathe a little better in April.”

But he concedes it will have to be cancelled if the coronavirus situation in France does not improve next month.

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