Netflix Banned from Competition at Cannes Film Festival

Beasts of No Nation
Still of Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation

Festival head, Theirry Fremaux, was on record saying that Netflix and other streaming services will not be in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

Last year, Netflix original movies Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories were allowed in competition. Theirry Fremaux discussed his original intentions when accepting these films. Here’s what he had to say:

“Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in cinemas. I was presumptuous, they refused.”

In our weekly Q&A last week, we discussed Steven Spielberg’s comments on accepting SVOD original content into the Academy Awards; he claims that original content produced by these streaming services are made for TV, and therefore, should be categorized as a TV movie. Many influential directors have agreed with a similar sentiment.  I do agree with a few points these directors have made. However, a movie is a movie and shouldn’t be categorized as a TV movie; that has a very negative connotation.

Accepting these films for award consideration and competition shouldn’t be out of the question, though. Unfortunately, it comes down to one simple process: distribution. Without a major studio to release your art to theatres, you’re kind of left in the dust. A filmmaker can craft a film that has a fresh story and it can be left on a shelf for years because no studio has faith in the final product. Streaming services allow up-and-coming filmmakers and even well-known filmmakers (i.e. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and David Ayer’s Bright) a platform from which they can take control of their creative intuition.

The importance of the theatrical experience could be impacted, though. I give credit to these directors for understanding that keeping the theatergoing experience alive is the most important aspect of film. These directors want SVOD services to release the films theatrically for more than just one week and actually giving it time to settle in the theatres before shipping it off to our screens at home.

Fremaux went on to explain controversy surrounding SVOD festival competition and how these original films from streaming services are a kind of “hybrid”.

“We have to take into account the existence of these powerful new players: Amazon, Netflix and maybe soon Apple,” he continued. “We’ll defend the image of a risk-prone festival, questioning the cinema, and we must be at the table every year…Cinema 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.”

What do you make of this story? Sound off in the comments below!

Author: Jared Charles

I am the owner of The Burrow Reviews. Currently studying Film, English, Political Science, and Gender Studies.

3 thoughts

  1. I think it’s pretentious to disallow them to screen at festivals. While I still love going to the cinema, Netflix and the like allow me to find and watch movies I would never otherwise hear of. They give platforms to small movies, and they make big movies accessible to people who cannot get out to the theatre.


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