On the steps of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, we could have seen Marilyn Monroe this year. Or at least the actress who plays her, Ana de Armas, in Andrew Dominik’s new film, Blonde hair. Thierry Frémaux liked it, but the feature film is produced by Netflix, and the artistic delegate of Cannes cannot present it in competition because it will not be released in theaters in France.
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The rule dates back to 2017. Two films produced by the American leader in video-on-demand services then competed for the Palme d’or, Okja by Bong Joon-ho and The Meyerowitz Stories by Noah Baumbach, provoking the anger of cinema operators in the face of these films deprived of theatrical release. Since then, nothing has changed. Or almost.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, the artistic delegate as well as the president of the festival, Pierre Lescure, said they were in favor of the return of the platforms, but the board of directors, where the exhibitors sit, refuses to derogate from the rule. ” The attitude of theater operators asking us to ignore platforms is outdated. We have to take them into account. We must accept the works,” grumbles Pierre Lescure in our columns.
A jump seat for Jane Campion?
Thierry Frémaux has offered Netflix to present his films out of competition. In vain. “Some of our works have their place in competitionwe retort on the side of the American giant. It is complicated for us to offer a jump seat to filmmakers like Jane Campion…” His last movie, The Power of the Dogalso won the Golden Lion for Best Achievement at the Venice Film Festival in 2021, which opened its doors wide to platforms. “Maybe a little too bigmocked Thierry Frémaux during a press conference last year. We are not sure that the platforms aspire to the survival of the cinemas. »
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It’s because the competition is fierce between the big festivals of the 7th art. The Berlinale has taken a middle-of-the-road position in this regard. “We work very freely with the platforms, of which we welcome many series in a program dedicated to them.explains to The cross Carlo Chatrian, artistic delegate of the Berlinale. As for feature films, we are free to broadcast platform productions if they are theatrically released in at least one territory. This was the case last year for the Mexican documentary Our detective story, screened in his country. »
Platform Recognition Quest
For Carlo Chatrian, the role of the Berlinale is to “support cinema films so that they are seen during the unique and collective experience that is the cinema. But don’t be dogmatic. Showing films produced by platforms that attract a different audience, often younger, can make them want to come back and buy a ticket. »
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Some Netflix films are released in countries where the media chronology is less strict. This was the case of God’s hand, by Paolo Sorrentino, in Italy, where the platforms only have to wait forty-five days to put it online after the first exploitation (compared to fifteen months in France). The American giant says it releases around thirty feature films a year around the world.
But Netflix and consorts, companies of Silicon Valley, are above all “in order to legitimacy and recognitionanalyzes Louis Wiart, professor of communication at the Free University of Brussels. However, festivals contribute to defining what quality cinema is. Winning a prize there remains crucial for these platforms, which are in fierce competition. For the first time, Netflix loses subscribers and is the subject of criticism on social networks: did he not privilege quantity to the detriment of quality? »
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