CANNES – As official Cannes Film Festival competition jury press conferences go the 2019 jurors didn’t have much noteworthy to say this time around. Sure, celebarated American director Kelly Reichardt joked that this was her “first time not trying to get out of jury duty” and both she and Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwarcher hoped the day would soon come when they weren’t referred to as “women directors,” but it was mostly left jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu to carry the burden of the global media’s inquiries. And as talented as the five-time Oscar-winner is, he’s no stranger to long-winded responses or blunt opinions.
Netflix has been the bane of the festival organizer’s existence or the past two years due to French distributors frustration over the streaming giant’s either day and date or straight to streaming policies. In 2017, then jury President Pedro Almodóvar told the world he would not consider the two Netflix releases in competition for any end of festival prizes. That led to the streaming giant skipping out on 2018 and the debate of theatrical vs. streaming popping up in almost ever festival press conference. And yet, Iñárritu, who has seen his good friend Alfonso Cuaron earn three Oscars for Netflix’s “Roma” in February, took a more middle of the road approach on the subject. He noted:
“The state of the cinema is very powerful. The reach lands of cinema that are capable of infinite expressions and generous and cultures I think is very healthy. I think what really is at stake is the way we are experiencing it. There are great films all around the world and it is how they access to everybody. I am a true believer to watch is not to see a film. To watch is something, to see is another thing and to see is not to experience something. And the cinema was born to be experienced in a communal experience. I have nothing on watching anything a phone, an iPad, on a computer. I sometimes do it with my headphones and enjoy it. I know that watching a film is not the same if I haven’t experienced that. As I’m saying, one should not cancel the other. As I was saying the other day to a friend, if someone 200 years from now would come alive and see myself listening to Beethoven in my car with those four speakers he would say, ‘Are you crazy? Aren’t these shitty speakers?’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, it’s great. What’s wrong with that?’ But it would be a very disastrous situation if there would not be an opportunity to hear an orchestra playing in a concert hall. I think in these times of inclusivity and [diversity] we have to include those films that they can be exhibit around the world. France is an exception, that’s a plan that is very fragile. I always ask, ‘How many of them we will see over the next 10 days will be exhibited around the world?’ Especially in Mexico. There are few art cinema owners that are really heroes. And Netflix has been doing a great job because they have been captulaizing the lack of these films and they are included in the TV. It’s great that they are in the TV, but why not give the people the choice to experience cinema. So, to answer to your question the production, the distribution and exhibition has been…the state of the cinema. There is so many productions. So many young people doing great things. Hopefully we’ll give people choices to not let die the communal experience to see cinema in their own language and the visual glamour it deserves.”
[And, frankly, that was a slightly shortened version of his entire response.]
Iñárritu also found himself discussing the issue of the “wall” between Mexico and the United States and how that harkened back to where the world was in 1939 (he even gave a history lesson on how the enlightened Greeks fell and eventually the harsh realities of the Middle Ages took their place). But while other jury members such as Pawel Pawlikoski, Robin Campillo and Yorgos Lanthimos were mostly slient, leave it to Elle Fanning to bring some cheer to the proceedings.
“I was in complete shock when I got that phone call and the question of whether I wanted to be a member of the Cannes Jury,” Fanning says.”I was in disbelief. I think I am still feeling that buzz and feeling just to be sitting up here with these incredible artists. We all met and came together last night at a beautiful dinner and beautiful time. Yes, I definitely am young, but I started acting when I very young. I started off with literally one of the best. I feel really honored and I also feel proud to represent a young voice in this festival and get to be a young audience member and view the movies from those eyes. I’m excited to get to do that.”
Look for complete coverage of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival for the rest of the month on The Playlist.