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Taking a stand against Netflix and other video streaming services, the Cannes Film Festival will ban any films that are solely digitally distributed from entering the festival starting next year.
Slate reports that in response to questions as to whether or not the films Okja, directed by Bong Joon Ho, and The Meyerowitz Stories, directed by Noah Baumbach, would be appearing in the festival, organizers released a full statement which says that all films in the future entering the Cannes Film Festival must have been released in French movie theatres.
The Cannes Film Festival and Netflix have had a rocky relationship for some time now, leaving many surprised when Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories — both distributed by Netflix — were included in the festival lineup. Many Netflix films had previously been refused entry, and festival officials previously advocated for the “discouraging” of Netflix’s online distribution platform. The two Netflix films in question will be receiving a theatrical release in the US, but festival officials stated that “no agreement has been reached” to release the films in French cinemas and that the effort to reach one was made “in vain.”
Festival Officials did clarify that their new anti-streaming rules will go into effect next year, allowing Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories to enter the competition this year:
A rumor has recently spread about a possible exclusion of the Official Selection of Noah Baumbach and Bong Joon-Ho whose films have been largely financed by Netflix. The Festival de Cannes does reiterate that, as announced on April 13th, these two films will be presented in Official Selection and in Competition.
The Festival de Cannes is aware of the anxiety aroused by the absence of the release in theaters of those films in France. The Festival de Cannes asked Netflix in vain to accept that these two films could reach the audience of French movie theaters and not only its subscribers. Hence the Festival regrets that no agreement has been reached.
The Festival is pleased to welcome a new operator which has decided to invest in cinema but wants to reiterate its support to the traditional mode of exhibition of cinema in France and in the world. Consequently, and after consulting its Members of the Board, the Festival de Cannes has decided to adapt its rules to this unseen situation until now: Any film that wishes to compete in Competition at Cannes will have to commit itself to being distributed in French movie theaters. This new measure will apply from the 2018 edition of the Festival International du Film de Cannes onwards.