Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Will Smith Comes to the Defense of Netflix at Cannes


He added that "Okja" was an "amazing film that theatre chains want to block us from entering into Cannes film festival competition". Rancor and controversy nonetheless dogged the festival's preamble, as well as its opening day.

And here he is getting a resounding round of applause at the opening ceremony. Further, more than a few of the films that won their year's Palme d'Or have gone on to secure nominations for best picture or best foreign language film at the Academy Awards.

Farhadi collected his Oscar statuette Wednesday in France, via producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy.

French distributors have protested that two of this year's in-competition titles, Netflix's "Okja" and "The Meyerowitz Stories", didn't until recently have a theatrical release in France. The movie has been slated for a June 29 release locally as it hits the streaming service in 190 countries on June 28. The Golden Camera Award will be given to a first film appearing in any section of the festival by a jury presided over by French actress Sandrine Kiberlain, while Romanian director Cristian Mungiu will head a jury that will provide an award to the short and student films in the Cinefondation section.

Almodovar, a longtime Cannes regular, is president of the jury that will decide the Palme d'Or.

"The size of the screen should not be smaller than the chair you're sitting in". Cinema purists have said this sets a risky precedent since the films don't get a theatrical release. "You must be small and humble in front of the image that's here".

Jury member and Hollywood star Will Smith, who has admitted he is "a long way from Cannes" and "hopes to leave less dumb", defended Netflix at the same press conference. With Netflix they get the benefit to watch what they never would have seen, it brings great connectivity to them to the world.

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"I see very little cross between going to the cinema and watching what they watch on Netflix in my home", he said.

Upcoming movie "Okja" has sparked heated debate about how films released nearly exclusively online will affect the film industry, but the film's visionary director, Bong Joon-ho, doubts platforms like Netflix will replace theaters. "They get to find those artists". American independentsFour titles from USA has been selected for the competition with, needless to say, neither the political authorities nor the film studios having a chance to influence the selection done by the artistic director of the festival, Thierry Fremaux.

Stars are arriving under tighter security than in previous years, 10 months after the truck attack in nearby Nice killed 86 people.

A festival spokeswoman said the measures were to "guarantee the festival-goers' optimal security" while "taking care not to disrupt" the event.

They were also appalled by the hostile reception given to Jean Renoir's anti-war masterpiece "The Grand Illusion" one year earlier.

In 1946, the first full-fledged film festival held in post-Liberation France took place, featuring soon-to-be classics like Roberto Rossellini's anti-fascist neorealist film "Rome, Open City" and Alfred Hitchcock's psychological thriller "Notorious".

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