The Cannes film festival is bringing down the ban hammer. They will no longer allow films from streaming services such as Netflix to be entered into consideration for their top honors. This is supposedly being done to keep the festival in compliance with an obscure French law, but the actual reasons seem fairly obvious (as we’ll get to shortly). In the meantime, only films which are screened in movie theaters first will be eligible for the Palme d’Or. (Washington Post)
In an exclusive interview with French magazine Le Film Français on Friday, festival director Thierry Fremaux announced changes to the prestigious event, which is in its 71st year and will run from May 8 to 19.
Shaking things up, Fremaux declared that films from Netflix and other streaming services would not be eligible to compete for the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the film festival.
The disagreement stemmed from conflict between Netflix wanting to debut films on its streaming service and a law known as French cultural exception, which has specific requirements for when films can move from theaters to other platforms like video-on-demand, television and streaming.
The French law they are citing requires the streaming release of movies to be no less than three years after the theatric debut. Since Netflix, Amazon and their various streaming competitors generally never put films into theaters, that means that all of their offerings are automatically disqualified. Forget the fact that the quality may be just as good, if not better than what you see in the theater or that the movies and series from these services regularly win major awards in the United States. Because this obviously has nothing to do with quality or popularity with viewers and everything to do with government control in France and efforts to prop up the legacy movie industry.
This is part of the culture in Hollywood, mirrored in Europe, which despises any sort of direct distribution. They want to force people back into the theaters to see only the films which the industry greenlights, showing up on streaming services months or years later as an afterthought. If the industry thought they could get away with it in the United States without causing a stampede of outrage from consumers they’d probably be trying it here as well.
Of course, Cannes is the same festival which finds streaming services repulsive but continues to honor convicted pedophile and child rapist Roman Polanski on a regular basis. They welcomed his latest film (which was a total flop based on most reviews) to the festival last year, although it wasn’t in the running for the top prize. He’s still given a place of honor when he shows up for these dazzling events.
But Netflix and other streaming services? They’re just evil, man. Destructive to society. They should be banned.