Netflix vs Cannes Film Festival: Wild Bunch boss wades into the argument

Alys Key
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Palme d'Or Winners Photocall- 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Two Netflix-backed films are competing for the Palme d'Or (Source: Getty)

The boss of film distribution and sales company Wild Bunch has waded into the ongoing debate between Netflix and the Cannes Film Festival. The festival, now in its 70th year, begins tomorrow.

Vincent Maraval, CEO of the distributor of last year’s Palme D’Or winner I, Daniel Blake, hit out at festival organisers for their “hypocrisy” in introducing new rules aimed at blocking video streaming services from competing.

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Cannes organisers last week unveiled a requirement for competition films to have theatrical distribution in French cinemas after the French Cinema Federation (FNCF) objected to the inclusion of two Netflix films in this year’s official selection.

Maraval said that “what shocks me is the hypocrisy”, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Cannes is an international film festival. The FNCF shouldn’t interfere.”

He pointed out that French films can compete in competitions in Italy or Germany without a theatrical release in those countries.

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The new rules will not affect the entry of Netflix-backed films Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories this year, but the company would need to change its model to include French theatrical releases in order to compete in the future.

Following the announcement of the new rule last week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings posted on Facebook saying the establishment was “closing ranks against us.”

But Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarados was hopeful for the future. At a press conference for Okja he said: “I believe in the years to come, Cannes will continue to invite the greatest films in the world. Distribution is changing, therefore festivals will continue to change, too.”

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