Cannes Artistic Director Explains Netflix Competition Ban
“The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films. But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours,” Thierry Fremaux said.
Netflix is officially out at Cannes — out of the competition lineup, at least.
Film festival head Theirry Fremaux said that it and other streamers can still show their films out of competition, but they won't be in the running for a Palme d'Or.
That's in addition to the selfie ban he announced Friday in an interview with Le Film Francais.
Last year when Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories were allowed in competition, the decision sparked a worldwide uproar.
French filmmakers and unions condemned the move and vowed protests, only for the festival to change the rules for 2018. It didn’t apply in time for the screenings of the two films last May, but neither were awarded with prizes.
The decision was a risk he was willing to take, at least the first time, to keep the festival from becoming stagnant, Fremaux said. And while he knew it would be controversial, the festival wanted to premiere the films from the two established filmmakers instead of having them go to another festival.
Still, he admits he overplayed his hand with Netflix, thinking they would bend their rules for the festival.
“Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in cinemas. I was presumptuous, they refused.”
At the time, Netflix tried to secure temporary permits to screen the films for less than a week in France, day-and-date to their online releases. That move wasn't permitted because of France's strict chronology laws and the two sides couldn't reach an agreement.
As a result, the festival has changed the rules to require theatrical release in France. “The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films. But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours,” he said.
“We have to take into account the existence of these powerful new players: Amazon, Netflix and maybe soon Apple,” he said, noting the festival has courted controversy in the past by bringing in films that were originally created for TV, like Olivier Assayas' Carlos in 2010, and allowing digital projection in 2000. “We’ll defend the image of a risk-prone festival, questioning the cinema, and we must be at the table every year.”
Fremaux said the while new players like Netflix and Amazon are enabling directors to make big budget films, they are creating “hybrids” that aren’t TV and aren't quite film. “Cinema [still] triumphs everywhere even in this golden age of series,” he said. “The history of cinema and the history of the internet are two different things.”