Cannes Film Festival Overhaul: Thierry Fremaux Bans Selfies and Netflix

This year’s Cannes Film Fest is in for a shake-up, with the festival’s renegade Artistic Director putting an end to frontward facing photos and preventing Netflix’s film department from receiving any of the festival’s highly prestigious awards. 

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So folks, if you’re planning on heading over to this year’s Cannes Film Festival, you better not pack your duck-lips. Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s Artistic Director told Variety that selfie’s are “grotesque” and therefore not to be seen at the Festival anymore. However not all phone shots are forbidden, so it’s unclear as to how realistic the ban’s implementation will be:

“We haven’t thought out in practical terms how to carry out this new measure. Since we are not policemen, we will trust attendees and their understanding of the situation.”

Good luck with that, dudes.

Thierry’s also got Netflix on his naughty list, ruling that the digital streaming platform’s original films are no longer eligible to receive the festival’s awards. Thierry is hardcore into preserving the prestige of the festival and filmmaking in general, so he’s taking disruptors Netflix out of the running. Lol, what a dig.

His biggest gripe with the platform seems to be it’s failure to release films in theatres. As he told Variety:

“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…eventually we will understand that the history of cinema and the history of the internet is not the same thing.”

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In a recent interview with ITV News, Steven Spielberg also had a go at Netflix for not releasing in cinemas:

“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. I don’t believe the films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

The streaming platform is yet to comment on the ban, however I’m guessing it’s going to go pretty similarly to what happened when Will Smith led Bright was released. In case you’ve forgotten,  the movie was critically slammed to the point that IndieWire’s David Ehrlich called it, “so profoundly awful that Republicans will probably try to pass it into law over Christmas break”.  Netflix, nonplussed, responded via a video presentation release after its successful fourth-quarter earnings were reported:

“Critics are an important part of the artistic process but are pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film…If people are watching this movie and loving it, that’s the measurement of success.”

So, to Thierry Fremaux there is a spectrum of film and on one end you have Cannes, theatrical releases and prestige, and on the other you have Netflix, selfies and movies as consumables. However, this philosophy is one unlikely to influence Netflix’s model of taking the humongous pile of data they’ve got on our viewing habits, and turning it into commercially viable films for us to watch in our PJ’s. It’s a completely different goal post to the one Thierry’s aiming at, and therefore unlikely to seriously hinder the company.

Regardless, we’ll be sure to see how these changes play out from the 8th of May this year, when the 71st Annual Cannes Film Festival begins.

Do you think Selfies and Netflix films should be allowed in prestige film awards? Comment below!