It’s official – Netflix has decided not to show any films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. After rumors of this happening and the full line-up of the festival’s selections being announced tomorrow, it looks like Netflix has decided to jump the gun and make sure everyone knows why Netflix won’t have any films on that list.
In an interview with Variety, Netflix executive Ted Sarandos spoke bluntly about the relationship between his company and the prestigious festival. And in no uncertain terms, he explains exactly why Netflix won’t have any films at Cannes.
“We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” Sarandos says. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.”
From there, Sarandos decided to poke a little at Cannes boss Thierry Fremaux, himself. “It is not a coincidence that Thierry also banned selfies this year,” Sarandos says. “I don’t know what other advances in media Thierry would like to address.”
The Cannes vs. Netflix debate has raged for a year now after comments were made by Fremaux about a proposed new rule (which went into effect this year) that would prevent Netflix (and other distributors) from showing a film in-competition if there was no planned theatrical run in France. Obviously, Netflix isn’t in the business of theatrical releases, and the rule was clearly there to target them, after the streaming giant had two big films premiere at last year’s festival.
However, the rule doesn’t prevent the streaming service from entering films out of competition. According to Sarandos, that just doesn’t work for them. “I don’t think there would be any reason to go out of competition. The rule was implicitly about Netflix, and Thierry made it explicitly about Netflix when he announced the rule,” said the executive.
Ultimately, Sarandos says he wishes he could be part of the festival because of his love of films and the opportunity that Cannes offers filmmakers. In fact, he mentions how Netflix loved being part of last year’s festival.
“We loved the festival. We love the experience for our filmmakers and for film lovers. It’s just that the festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema. We are 100% about the art of cinema. And by the way, every other festival in the world is too,” explained Sarandos.
Don’t expect Netflix to stay at home this year, though. Sarandos confirmed that the company will be out in full-force, as always, with the idea of purchasing films that are seeking distribution. He also feels that, eventually, Cannes will change its mind about the rule. But as of now, this is the way things will have to be until Netflix and the festival can work it out. For Sarandos and Netflix, they feel as if they’re part of the future of the film industry, while Cannes is stuck in the past.
Sarandos concluded, “Thierry had said in his comments when he announced his change that the history of the Internet and the history of Cannes are two different things. Of course they are two different things. But we are choosing to be about the future of cinema. If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that’s fine.”