CANNES: The Cannes Film Festival director took a hit at competing events on Monday, saying some had been too quick to allow films made by streaming giants in their main competitions without enforcing strict rules, and had accordingly harmed the cinema.
Platforms like Netflix thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic and won several top awards, while studios and theaters struggled as coronavirus restrictions closed theaters and pushed more viewers online.
Cannes, the world’s largest film showcase which kicks off Tuesday on the French Riviera, has long been at odds with streaming companies, insisting on a theatrical release in France for any film selected to compete for its Best Picture award. .
Festival director Thierry Fremaux told reporters on Monday that the organizers were playing by the rules.
“2019 has been a great year for cinema. Then 2020 was the most catastrophic year in the history of cinema, ”Fremaux told reporters.
He added that the crisis had helped platforms like Netflix achieve a “deserved victory,” but left the rest of the film industry with little to fight back.
Netflix and its competitors like Amazon have become a formidable force in the film world and are now calling on top directors, including Martin Scorsese, to make films that only have limited editions in theaters.
Unlike Cannes, some other film festivals, including Venice, have included films made by streaming giants in their main competition schedules without imposing such stringent requirements.
Before the pandemic, “Roma”, a Netflix film directed by Alfonso Cuaron, won first prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2018.
“Some festivals first opened their doors a little too freely, to people who we don’t know if they want the cinema to survive,” said Fremaux.
Cannes showed two Netflix films in its official competition in 2017, but tightened its rules after a backlash from French theaters. Fremaux said Netflix was invited to this year’s festival to screen films out of competition, but declined.
Netflix could not immediately be reached for comment.