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

Will Smith, Pedro Almodovar open testy Cannes Film Festival


"Welcome to the 70th Cannes festival".

Will Smith and Jessica Chastain - who are both on the jury deciding the coveted Palme d'Or prize - were among the A-listers gracing the red carpet at a glittering ceremony to launch the 12-day festival in the palm-fringed French resort. At the press conference, Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, the Cannes jury president, read a prepared statement that took a swipe at Netflix's chances of taking home a major award at the festival, where the streaming company has original films competing for the first time ever this year.

"What I hope is that we'll all feel the real emotion experienced by the first people to watch Viridinia, La Dolce Vita or Apocalypse Now", he said, naming the Palme d'Or winners from 1961, 1960 and 1979.

Spanish director Pedro Almodovar is leading the jury charged with picking a victor among the 19 films vying for the coveted Palme d'Or top prize, on a panel that also includes Smith, "Interstellar" star Jessica Chastain, and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.

However from next year, films will have to be released in French cinemas if they want to be considered.

Other stars with splashy Cannes films this year include Kristen Stewart - who's making her directorial debut with the short film Come Swim - Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton in Netflix's Okja. "You must be small and humble in front of the image that's here".

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Netflix has refused to release its two movies in the running for the prize in French cinemas due to strict rules that mean subscription services can not offer films for streaming until three years after their theatrical release.

New platforms for film distribution must play by existing rules, he said, which in France means Netflix would be banned from streaming its films for three years after a theatrical release. There's very little cross between going to the cinema and watching what they watch on Netflix in my home. They get to see films they absolutely wouldn't have seen. "It has broadened my children's global cinematic comprehension".

The festival runs from May 17 to 28 and opened with Arnaud Desplechin's Ismael's Ghosts.

Kidman, however, is the undisputed queen of this year's Cannes, starring in three movies as well as the TV series Top of the Lake, which is getting a special screening.

The jury will pick the Palme d'Or victor out of the 19 films in competition next weekend.

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