Netflix is pulling out of the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Variety that the streaming platform won’t be competing in the festival, after Cannes changed the qualification rules last year, requiring submitted films to be released theatrically in France. Last year Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories competed, but not without pushback from members of the festival board.
Sarandos says Netflix execs will still be at the festival to potentially buy films in competition but lamented “how punitive this rule is to filmmakers and film lovers.” He took a few jabs at Thierry Fremaux, Cannes’ artistic director, calling the rule change “completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world.” When asked about his message to the international film community, Sarandos amped up the vitriol a bit:
We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back. 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.
Fremaux told Variety in March that he thinks Cannes and Netflix “will eventually come up with a good agreement. Because in order for a film to become part of history, it must go through theaters, box office, the critics, the passion of cinephiles, awards campaigns, books, directories, filmographies. The collective discussion in cafes, in theaters, on the radio. All this is part of a tradition on which the history of film is based.”
This week, Orson Welles’ daughter, Beatrice, implored Netflix to reconsider the Cannes ban. Netflix was set to premiere Welles’ previously unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind at the festival, and Vanity Fair shared portions of an email she sent to Sarandos: “I saw how the big production companies destroyed his life, his work, and in so doing a little bit of the man I loved so much. I would so hate to see Netflix be yet another one of these companies.”