Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Will Smith, Pedro Almodovar open testy Cannes Film Festival

Earlier this week, the Cannes Film Festival considered yanking Okja from the competition, because it had not been shown in French movie theatres.

Last week festival organisers changed the rules to effectively ban Netflix films in future, insisting that movies in competition must be shown on the big screen afterwards. (The Palme d'Or is the top prize at Cannes).

The Palme d'Or is the highest prize awarded to competing films.

The main protagonist of this 15-minute feature is Marta, an employee of a auto fix workshop which is owned by her father.

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Jury president Pedro Almodovar, the Spanish director who has been in competition at Cannes four times, said he hoped to discover what he described as a cinematic miracle. "We're very proud to partner with NEW to also give Korean viewers such opportunity to see the film in theaters at the same time", Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, said during a news conference to promote the film at a Seoul hotel. Because streaming services (both Netflix and Amazon) are becoming increasingly important distributors and even producers of good movies (Martin Scorsese's next feature, "The Irishman", is a Netflix production), the main effect of this rule will only be to further weaken the festival's lineup.

"They are the flawless representation of American cultural imperialism", said Christophe Tardieu, director of the National Cinema Centre, known as the CNC, a state entity that coordinates public financing of films.

While a fight between American streaming giant Netflix and French movie theaters has overshadowed the opening, fans of auteur cinema are excited to see the latest works by the likes of Noah Baumbach, Francois Ozon and Lynne Ramsay. "You must be small and humble in front of the image that's here".

"I'll be fighting for one thing that I'm afraid the new generation is not aware of", he said.

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But, in a country where movies shown in cinemas can not be streamed for three years, Netflix refused to arrange distribution across France - meaning Okja, starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, and The Meyerowitz Stories, starring Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman, will not be seen on the big screen after their Cannes premiere. And there's other films that they prefer to watch at home.

"It would be an enormous paradox if the Palme d'Or went to a film that can not be seen in cinemas", he said in the jury's first press conference. Netflix brings a great connectivity.

The Spanish director, who heads a jury that includes Hollywood stars Will Smith and Jessica Chastain, took a tough line with Netflix, telling reporters that it would be "an enormous paradox if the Palme d'Or went to a film that can not be seen in cinemas". They get to see movies that aren't on a screen within 8,000 miles of them. And now they get to find those artists.

"But Netflix fully supported me", he said.

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A view of the palais du festival at the 70th global film festival, Cannes, southern France, Monday, May 15, 2017.

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