Venice Festival Under Fire From European Cinema Group for Including Netflix Films

Courtesy of Netflix
'Roma' (2018)

The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) described the inclusion of several Netflix films as a "marketing tool."

Last year, it was Alfonso Cuaron's Roma that saw Venice get in hot water with European cinema groups. This year, the world's oldest film festival is — as was predicted — continuing its support of Netflix-backed films. 

Venice's main competition includes Steven Soderbergh’s Panama Papers drama The Laundromat and Noah Baumbach’s Scarlett Johansson starrer Marriage Story, both from the streaming giant. Out of competition, Netflix has David Michod'sThe King, with an all-star cast including Timothee Chalamet and Robert Pattinson. 

The selections were expected, but that hasn't stopped them from coming under immediate — and fierce — criticism. 

In a statement Thursday, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which represents cinema operators across 38 European territories, slammed the decision, describing it as a "marketing tool" for Netflix.  

“The inclusion of films in official selections that are within the reach of everyone — and not only that of streaming platform subscribers — benefits the audience as a whole," it said. "Where films are available solely on these platforms, or receive only a limited ‘technical’ release in cinemas, festival/award selection becomes in truth only a marketing tool whereby most of the potential audience is denied access to a wealth of great content."

Cannes has famously not included Netflix films in its main competition after falling out with the company.