Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Row over Netflix films casts shadow over Cannes Film Festival

Row over Netflix films casts shadow over Cannes Film Festival Row over Netflix films casts shadow over Cannes Film Festival
Freda Brock | 19 May, 2017, 23:12

The festival kicked off on Wednesday with a press event featuring the star-studded Cannes jury-the group that includes A-list actors Will Smith and Jessica Chastain, and which will vote on films competing at this year's festival. Ahead of the festival, organizers announced that next year, streaming-only films will not be selected in Cannes' competition lineup - a move applauded by French theaters and decried by Netflix.

The company has refused to screen the two movies in French cinemas because of rules that mean films can not be streamed from subscription services in France until three years after their traditional box-office release.

This year's program also points to changes shaking up the film industry, including the march on Hollywood by streaming giants Netflix and Amazon and the arrival of virtual reality.

Pedro Almodovar, who is presiding over this year's competition jury, said: "I personally do not conceive, not only the Palme d'Or, any other prize being given to a film and not being able to see this film on a big screen".

Coming from the head of the jury that will decide the award, the comment was striking and potentially means the Joon-ho and Baumbach films already are out of the running. The size [of the screen] should not be smaller than the chair on which you're sitting.

Jury president Pedro Almodovar, the Spanish director who has been in competition at Cannes four times, said he hoped to discover what he described as a cinematic miracle.

Other stars with splashy Cannes films this year include Kristen Stewart - who's making her directorial debut with the short film Come Swim - Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton in Netflix's Okja.

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Smith also argued that services like Netflix give his children access to films and filmmakers they might otherwise not have experienced. "They get to see films they absolutely wouldn't have seen". Netflix brings a great connectivity for them to the world. They go to the movies twice a week, and they watch Netflix. And now they get to find those artists and they look them up online and they make contact.

"West Philadelphia is a long way from Cannes", said Smith, referring to the scrappy neighborhood in the northeastern US city where he grew up. France remains under a state of emergency since the November 2015 Paris attacks.

The star-studded festival will see Hollywood heavyweights flock to the French Riviera for a series of red carpet premieres.

"You're in a country which has got a lot of terrorist attacks".

"Since Sept. 11, Cannes has ... maximized security measures", festival director Thierry Fremaux said in an interview. Critics, while praising some of the performances, weren't enamored with Desplechin's farcical, self-referential drama about a filmmaker visited by a long missing ex-wife.

The Cannes Film Festival runs through May 28, when the Palme d'Or victor and other awards will be announced.

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