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“It would be strange to give an award to a movie you can’t see at the cinema”

Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar speaks up about Cannes festival Netflix controversy

Oscar-winning Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar has weighed in on the debate about the place of movies produced by the streaming content provider Netflix at the Cannes Film Festival, currently being held amid an atmosphere of tight security over fears of a possible terrorist attack.

Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar at the press conference in Cannes.
Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar at the press conference in Cannes. REUTERS

Speaking at a press conference, Almodóvar, who heads up the jury at this year’s edition of the prestigious event, said: “For me, it would be an enormous paradox if the [film that won top prize, the] Palme D’Or at this Cannes festival, or any other prize, could not be seen in cinemas.”

Two Netflix films are up for awards at the year’s event – the Noah Baumbach-directed The Meyerowitz Stories and the Korean fantasy Okja – but organizers have said that as of next year films that are not guaranteed a cinematic release in France will be excluded from the competition, a decision that will affect Netflix given that it does not distribute its films in this way.

While I am still alive, I will defend the hypnotic power of the big screen

Film director Pedro Almodóvar

“Netflix is a new platform that offers content for a fee, which, in principle, is both positive and beneficial. But this new way of consuming [movies] shouldn’t replace the current methods, like going to the cinema; it can’t change the habits of spectators and I think that is the debate right now,” said Almodóvar, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2003 with Talk to Her.

“I respect the new technologies, but while I am still alive, I will defend something that younger generations seem not to understand: the hypnotic power of a big screen,” he added.

Actor Will Smith has shown himself much more favorable to Netflix.
Actor Will Smith has shown himself much more favorable to Netflix. Cordon press/EPV

Almodóvar’s views on the place of the two Netflix films at this year’s competition would seem to diminish their chances of taking home any prizes. But speaking at the same press conference fellow jury member Will Smith offered a different view of the matter.

“In my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit,” said the actor. “[My children] get to see films they absolutely wouldn’t have seen.” Cinemas and Netflix, he continued, “are two distinct forms of entertainment.”

English version by George Mills.

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