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Back to The Future: International Cinema Body Calls for Netflix Ban at Venice Festival

The International Confederation of Art Cinemas has called for a ban on films from Netflix being allowed to compete against traditional theatrically-released films

Shantanu David | News18.com

Updated:September 4, 2018, 10:23 AM IST
Back to The Future: International Cinema Body Calls for Netflix Ban at Venice Festival
Members of the Jury, Christoph Waltz, Taika Waititi, Naomi Watts, Malgorzata Szumowska, Trine Dyrholm, Nicole Garcia, jury President Guillermo del Torro, Sylvia Chang and Paolo Genovese pose for photographers at the photo call for the Jury at the 75th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (Image: AP)

The future of cinema continues to hotly debated as traditional entertainment media organizations wrestle with a changing paradigm thanks to emerging platforms. After causing much controversy at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, the issue of Netflix entering its online films at celluloid competitions has now set the Venice festival ablaze. According to the Hollywood Reporter, The International Confederation of Art Cinemas, CICAE, has spoken out against the Venice Film Festival's decision to screen films backed by Netflix in its official competition.

In its statement, the cinema body said, “Earlier this year, Thierry Fremaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, set an example and took the side of art cinemas and decided to exclude films without a theatrical release in France from competition. A prestigious film festival allowing in its official selection lineup titles that will not be seen on the big screen internationally encourages practices that endanger an important sector of the film industry. Cinema and television are different mediums, and cinematic films are made to be seen according to high-quality standards on the big screen.”

Despite Cannes having come down on the side of tradition and having barred films without the customary theatrical release from entering the competition, Venice clearly has its eye on the future. The world's oldest film festival has a record six films from Netflix's stable, including both in-competition and out-of-competition titles. Apart from films like Alfonso Cuaron's Roma, the Coen brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and Stefano Cucchi's Italian crime drama On My Skin - all of which were entered into the competition, the-out-of-competition entries include Orson Welles' final, incomplete project, The Other Side of the Wind, as well as a documentary on the legendary auteur's last days and film.

The upcoming Toronto International Film Festival has also taken a more open approach, with a formidable seven Netflix films in its schedule, including the festival opener - David Mackenzie's Scottish period project Outlaw King.

Cuaron, the Coen brothers and Cucchi have also pointed out that their movies will all get some form of theatrical release in addition to their online bow. On My Skin, for example, hits Italian theaters next week via local distributor Lucky Red, in a simultaneous day-and-date bow with its Netflix release.

Netflix's theatrical strategy for Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is still unclear, though it is thought unlikely that the streaming giant will give either of the films an extensive, and exclusive, theatrical window ahead of its online debut.

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