Can the Cannes Film Festival still resist Netflix?

The festival is seen as the “last of the Mohicans” by not allowing films from platforms to compete if they are not released in French cinemas. But the situation could well change next year.

Iris Knobloch, the new boss of the Cannes Film Festival from 1er July, will arrive at his post with a major challenge: the place of platform films in the Cannes competition. Five years ago, for the first and last time, Netflix was in it. With, among other things, a fabulous animal (Okay, by Bong Joon-ho). Faced with the bronca of the middle, a rule has prevailed since: only works intended for theatrical release in France can run for the Palme d’Or. Thierry Frémaux, the general delegate, would like to relax this principle but his board of directors is blocking.

For independent distributors, already bruised by the health crisis and the disaffection of the public in theaters, a Palme d’or awarded to video platforms would be the coup de grace. “Two places reserved for them in competition would be two places less for us, believes Éric Lagesse, boss of Pyramide (eight films at Cannes this year, all sections combined, including six in the official selection). In such conditions, who knows if our only title in competition [Les Huit Montagnes, de Felix Van Groeningen et Charlotte Vandermeersch] would have had a chance? »

Risk of outdatedness

Himself a customer of online video subscription services (” with moderation “), the distributor refuses to do the same job. “We, the independents, discover authors and take risks to accompany them. Can you imagine Amazon flirting with Mikhaël Hers, the director of passengers of the night ? » Among the operators, we express the same desire not to leave the butter and the money for the butter to the platforms. For Marc-Olivier Sebbag, General Delegate of the National Federation of French Cinemas, “ Cannes is a film festival, not TV movies or series; which have their place out of competition”.

By dint of sticking to its prestigious position, isn’t Cannes in danger of becoming outdated? In Le Figaro, the boss of Pathé, Jérôme Seydoux, recently accused him of “Last of the Mohicans” in a world that adapts. Mostra awarded the Golden Lion to a Netflix production in 2018 (Rome, by Alfonso Cuaron). And the last edition of the Oscars rewarded The Power of the Dog, by Jane Campion (Netflix), and Coda, streamed on Apple TV+.

For its part, Netflix is ​​careful not to lay siege. The platform declines all out-of-competition presence – there is no question that a film cut for the highest awards, such as Blonde hair, by Andrew Dominik, dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, ends up on a jump seat – but keeps a low profile. And counts on a “modernization” of the chronology of the media: a reduction of the time between the release of a film in theaters and its distribution on a platform. For Netflix, this period is fifteen months but could be revised downwards in January 2023. If this is confirmed, the multinational could then release the titles selected in competition in cinemas and guarantee its subscribers in France to discover them on the platform. only a few months later.

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Can the Cannes Film Festival still resist Netflix?