Cannes Film Festival Stops Netflix Originals from Competing

Netflix Originals can be screened at Cannes Film Festival, but can no longer compete for their top award.

Following the controversy that surrounded last year’s Netflix Originals, Cannes Film Festival has made the decision to rule out all films made by streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Video. Netflix films can still be screened at Cannes, but those films won’t be eligible to run for the Palme d’Or, the same prize which last year featured Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories (both Netflix films), and is also the most prestigious award at the festival.

Film festival head, Thierry Fremaux said “Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in theaters. I was presumptuous: They refused.” The director of the National Cinema Centre also came forward to the New York Times and said that Netflix is “the perfect representation of American cultural imperialism.” Alleging that the streaming giant refused to accept or try to understand how the French cultural exception works.

Cannes has now changed its entry requirements to include a French theatre release for any movies wishing to enter the competition. Fremaux claimed that “The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films. But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours.”

The foundation of the argument grew from the conflict of Netflix wanting to debut its films online, despite the French law of cultural exception having a strict 36 month waiting period before films can move from theatres to streaming and television platforms.

In 2017, Cannes Film Festival tried to obtain temporary permits to screen Netflix films for less than a week in France, which would have allowed the films to be seen in theatres and online at similar times. But this was a direct clash with the French law.

The Cannes decision comes just as Steven Spielberg unapologetically shared his views on the nature of Netflix Originals as Academy Award nominees. “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar.” The director, who was promoting his new film Ready Player One insists he’s not a snob, but it’s a widely held view in the industry.

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