Jury • Cannes Film Festival 2017
"A sense of humility in front of the big screen"
by Fabien Lemercier
- CANNES 2017: The chair of the competition jury, Pedro Almodóvar, and his fellow jury members spoke to the press about how they see their role and especially about the Netflix question
While the media buzz on the Croisette for this afternoon's press conference with the competition jury of the 70th Cannes Film Festival was usual, the content of the event was quite different from the traditional. Even though jury chair Pedro Almodóvar and jury members Maren Ade, Jessica Chastain, Fan Bingbing, Agnès Jaoui, Paolo Sorrentino, Park Chan-wook, Will Smith and Gabriel Yared spoke to some extent about how they view their roles, it was the subject of Netflix that absolutely dominated their exchanges. To refresh your memory: the inclusion of two films financed by the US platform in the competition (Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories) was a source of major controversy in France, before leading to a recent amendment of the festival rules for next year (films competing for a place in the competition must, from now on, have a distributor guaranteeing cinema release in France).
How do you envisage your role as chair of the jury?
Pedro Almodóvar: I have attended the Cannes Film Festival since 1982 and I came for the first time as an audience member. I have always seen it as a party and a celebration of arthouse cinema, a genre in which I feel at ease - both as a filmmaker and as a simple spectator. Today, with this eclectic jury, I would like to experience the same emotions as the audiences of Viridiana, La Dolce Vita or Apocalypse Now, of films that have won the Palme d'Or, and have given us the opportunity to all experience the same miracle. The most important thing now are the films. This jury is composed of very different individuals, and so our perspective will be based on diversity on a number of levels, independently, however, of the gender - male or female - of the filmmakers.
What is your take on the debate about Netflix, which has financed two of the films in the running for the Palme d'Or?
PA: Being available in 190 countries is all well and good, but in cinemas and on the big screen! Digital platforms are a new way of accessing films, which is enriching and positive. But it is not about these new forms replacing the existing ones, and they must in no way change audience habits. The only solution is for this platform we are talking about to accept the rules that have been adopted and respected by other platforms, especially the rules on financing and taxation. I cannot imagine the Palme d'Or being awarded to a film that could not be watched on the big screen. This does not mean that I am against new technologies. But young people have no idea about the hypnotic capacity that I have always had to fight. Because when you see a film for the first time, the size of the screen plays a big role. And you feel a sense of humility in front of the big screen.
It must be noted that US actor Will Smith (omnipresent during the press conference, while Maren Ade and Paolo Sorrentino, among others, remained silent) intervened in this debate by highlighting that his children go to the cinema and watch films on Netflix as well, which allows them to be exposed to different kinds of films. France's Agnès Jaoui also expressed her opinion on the issue: "The world is changing and you cannot dig your heels in against technology; but these platforms have to fulfil their rights and duties, especially their fiscal obligations." She nonetheless also suggested that France should reflect on its current distribution windows.
(Translated from French)
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