When it comes to the most prestigious film festivals around the world, the Cannes Film Festival is easily one of the biggest and best, a household word to international filmmakers and studios. It is also one of the longest operating; last year the Cannes Festival celebrated its 70th anniversary. Among the traditional-format movies being screened in the competition were two films from online streaming giant, Netflix. The response was quite positive from the attendants and jury; however this reception has been soured by new regulations for Cannes movie entries. To that end, Netflix has announced not returning for Cannes 2018.
Variety has had an exclusive interview with Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos where he discusses their company’s decision not to screen any of their films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, whether in competition or otherwise. This is in response to some new ruling by the Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux, stipulating that all movies wanting to screen in competition at the festival must have been distributed in cinemas all over France. Apparently, French cinema owners and unions protested the inclusion of Netflix original films “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories”, which were never screened in their theaters at all.
Now, this might have been easily resolved because Netflix was okay with letting some of their original movies be distributed in French cinemas to qualify them for Cannes. But this runs afoul of an earlier film law, requiring movies to not be made available for home viewing – TV, cable or streaming – for a 36-month period from their cinematic premiere date in the country. As Netflix movies appear on streaming from the get-go, none of them qualify for Cannes competition anyway. With no options whatsoever, Sarandos has decided that Netflix showing up at Cannes 2018 was simply a waste of time.
Ted Sarandos remarks that he would have wanted any Netflix films that would be screened for competition in Cannes to be on equal footing with any other festival entries. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival,” he said of the restrictive film festival regulations. “They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.” Sarandos also criticized another restriction that Thierry Fremaux put in place for Cannes 2018 prohibiting “selfies” or the guests taking any self-photos while on the red carpet.
The Cannes Film Festival for this year will be taking place in May. While Netflix will not be screening any films due to the rules, some company executives will be at the festival, although Sarandos himself has decided to skip.
Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair