At the Mostra: and two for Netflix

There are God’s hand by the Italian Paolo Sorrentino who won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2014 with The Big Bellezza. And The Power of the Dog New Zealander Jane Campion who won the first female Palme d’Or in 1993 at Cannes with The Piano Lesson. Suffice to say that we are going to jostle on the Lido island in Venice to discover these two new releases exclusively broadcast on Netflix – God’s hand will be released on the platform on December 15, The Power of the Dog at a date still unknown. Selecting Netflix-stamped films is not a first at the Mostra and rewarding them does not scare it: the festival notably awarded its Golden Lion to Rome by the Mexican Alfonso Cuarón from 2018. For its part, Netflix is ​​taking the opportunity to gain credibility and subscribers. Despite the – still – closed doors of the Cannes Film Festival, the American leader in streaming continues inexorably to place its pawns on the great chessboard of world cinema. confirm with Nasturtium Cousin, author of Netflix & Cie, behind the scenes of a revolution (Armand Colin, 2018).

With two of its films in competition at the Mostra, can we say that Netflix is ​​in the process of bending the major international film festivals a little more?

Probably. In any case, it is certain that, one after the other, the main film festivals in the world are softening their position in relation to that of Netflix. While Netflix has not changed its position for years! Reed Hastings, the co-founder of Netflix, has always said that the platform’s original productions were intended to be offered exclusively to its subscribers who pay their subscription. From then on, they eventually agreed to broadcast certain films in very homeopathic doses in a few cinemas on an event basis. But for him, there was never any question of Netflix original productions being accessible to everyone in theaters under normal conditions.

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As for La Mostra de Venise, it has been trying for several years to position itself in this kind of world war of film festivals and we notice that little by little it is imposing itself as the “antechamber” of the Oscars – the last year, the film that won the Golden Lion, nomadland, was then awarded several Oscar prizes. And it’s true that the festival manages to attract great films, great Netflix productions and therefore to impose itself in this great world tour of film festivals.

Like the Oscars by the way, which initially had a very inflexible position with regard to Netflix original productions. We remember that a few years ago, Steven Spielberg himself said that there was no question of Netflix productions being in official competition for the Oscars if they were not released in theaters under normal conditions. Strangely, Steven Spielberg himself softened his stance on this this spring and is starting to work with Netflix himself…

So would you say that Netflix is ​​now clearly serving as a lever for an international film festival?

Yes, and I also think that the pandemic and the new situation that the pandemic has brought has really accelerated this position for Netflix which has at least 200 million subscribers worldwide. And then, it is true that for the past year, almost everywhere in the world, movie theaters have been closed for several months in a row, which, as we know, has forced certain movie studios to review their strategy, in particular the Warner and Disney studios which, since the beginning of the year, have released some of their films (at least for the American market) simultaneously on their own platform and in theaters. Already there is that. And then Netflix, and this had also impressed many observers, announced at the beginning of the year a hundred original productions of films which would be released directly on the platform, including that of Jane Campion.

Besides, seeing Jane Campion’s latest film broadcast exclusively on Netflix is ​​huge, isn’t it?

Oh yes, really amazing!

The Power of the Dog is one of the most awaited films by cinema observers, everyone remembers its Palme d’Or of 93 and there, that it comes out on Netflix… everyone wonders “did it have gave in or couldn’t she do otherwise if she wanted her film to wrap up and be released in theaters?

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Has Netflix definitely won its acclaim?

Definitely, no, I don’t think so. Especially since the position of the Cannes Film Festival may change. It turns out that the two Netflix films at the Mostra, these two highly anticipated films, could have been in Cannes this year, that’s what is really disturbing. Thierry Frémaux, general delegate of the Cannes Film Festival, had specified in an interview with Variety shortly before the fortnight, that he had sought to have them but that it had not been possible because Netflix and the organizers of the festival had remained, this year again, in their respective positions. Namely: Netflix wanted its films to participate in the Cannes Film Festival provided that it was in official competition, so that they could compete for a prize, while the festival believed that Netflix could only appear out of competition if his films were not released theatrically under normal conditions. Several analysts, in particular Le Figaro, considered that it was a false hand extended to Netflix, a jump seat

There are two opposing strategies between the Mostra and Cannes like two sailboats choosing completely different options in a regatta. In this race, is the Cannes Film Festival taking the risk of being behind?

I don’t think so because this year again Cannes made itself heard. His prize list did not leave anyone indifferent in the world of cinema, with this surprising and very daring Palme d’Or of Titanium by Julia Ducournau which is a really radical film.

I don’t think the Cannes Film Festival is the loser. Especially since we must not forget that from a business point of view, the Cannes film market was still held this year and it went very well, there were a lot of purchases, sales of projects and films, so Cannes continues to hold first place in the cinema business.

So, I don’t think the dice are cast at all and we don’t know if the festival organizers will stick to their position or change it next year if it ever becomes too untenable compared to the others.

Behind all this, what is the ultimate goal of Netflix?

What is certain is that Netflix still wants to gain respectability. If they win prizes at the various film festivals, it is to show that he too buys and produces real quality films.

But we never heard Reed Hastings say that he was a cinephile, that he admired French auteur cinema, even though the platform offers films by François Truffaut, for example. The objective is always the same: it remains a business and its objective remains to offer the most diverse films possible to attract subscribers.

All the more so in a battle that is getting tougher and tougher with tougher and tougher competitors like Disney and the others that are developing all over the world.

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At the Mostra: and two for Netflix