Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Netflix Pulls All Films Out of Cannes Following Competition Ban

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Stacy Diaz | 12 April, 2018, 03:27

Sarandos criticized Cannes artistic director Frémaux's decision to only allow films with French distribution to compete at the festival, calling it "completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world". We hope that they modernize. "The Festival de Cannes asked Netflix in vain to accept that these two films could reach the audience of French movie theaters and not only its subscribers", a statement from the Cannes board read at the time.

Instead of simply allowing its films to play out of competition at the prestigious fest, Netflix is picking up its ball and going home.

Streaming services like Netflix have done an excellent job disrupting film distribution, but it looks like some corners of the industry are fighting back.

Netflix has financed the post-production on The Other Side of the Wind, and had planned to premiere the movie at Cannes ahead of its release on the streaming platform in the fall.

Now in the wake of this rule change, Ted Sarandos has revealed to Variety that they are pulling out from the Cannes Film Festival altogether.

Last year, two Netflix films - Bong Joon-ho's "Okja" and Noah Baumbach's "The Meyerowitz Stories" - premiered in competition at Cannes, prompting outrage from French theater owners and unions.

The ruling will also indirectly affect independent films which have previously competed at Cannes and secured theatrical distribution; they would also be barred from competition.

For Cannes, losing Netflix - and its growing roster of big-name filmmakers and stars - is a blow, depriving the French Rivera festival of some of the high-wattage glamour it seeks for its red carpet. I just don't understand why other festivals have found it in their hearts to embrace Netflix - such as Sundance, where the streaming service acquired Mudbound and won the Grand Jury Prize for I Don't Feel at Home In This World Anymore in the same year - but Cannes refuses, even though the festival needs Netflix a lot more than Netflix needs Cannes.

"We hope that they do change the rules", Sarandos said. While Sarandos won't be attending the festival this year, he's still sending an acquisition team, which could end up buying multiple films in competition, thereby getting the last laugh on Fremaux. Netflix shouldn't have to change its entire business model to appease one film festival that isn't what it once was, and still struggles to move the needle these days. "If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that's fine". "We're still talking", he said.

"We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker", Sarandos said in response to Cannes' ruling that Netflix films can not compete at the festival.

Variety spoke exclusively with Sarandos about the decision, where he went into full detail about his confusion at the new rule and the decision to not participate.

The prestigious festival made the rule change following a protest from their native theater owners, who hit the ceiling past year when Netflix strutted titles like Tilda Swinton's "Okja" in the main competition.

Michael Idato is a Senior Writer based in Los Angeles for The Sydney Morning Herald.