Will Smith gets embroiled in Netflix debate

Brunilde Fioravanti
Mag 19, 2017

The jury, which is also made up of Will Smith, Jessica Chastain and Paolo Sorrentino, will pick the Palme d'Or victor out of the 19 films in competition next weekend.

The 70th Cannes Film Festival is opening Wednesday under sunny Cote D'Azur skies, heavy security and widespread unease in the movie industry.

Netflix has been the topic of some conversation at the Cannes film festival, with some filmmakers and critics protesting the presence of the streaming service.

However, the 48-year-old actor defended the company, which is set to be the distributor of his next movie "Bright", and hailed Netflix as an "absolute benefit" and a "great connectivity" in the movie world.

Many read his comments as indicating that neither of Netflix's highly-touted films - Okja starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, and The Meyerowitz Stories starring Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller - would win anything at Cannes. All this doesn't mean I'm not open to or don't celebrate the new technologies.

Inside the Palais, the festival kicked off with master of ceremonies Monica Bellucci, who delivered a speech about the importance of cinema before introducing jury president Almodovar.

Smith launched a spirited defence of Netflix, saying it "broadens my children's cinematic global comprehension". There are movies that are not on a screen within 8,000 miles of them.

Netflix, however, has refused to back down, with boss Reed Hastings claiming that "the establishment is closing ranks against us".

The battle ― which has divided film-makers ― has prompted French directors and producers to appeal to their government to change the rules.

One might dare to say that Smith even stole the show on opening night at the Palais where the festival opened with Arnaud Desplechin's Ismael's Ghosts.

Stars are arriving under tighter security than in previous years, 10 months after the truck attack in nearby Nice killed 86 people.

She also stars in the second series of Top Of The Lake, which will be screened in full at the festival.

The streaming giant's two films are among 19 vying for the Palme d'Or, which also include Happy End, a film set against the backdrop of Europe's migrant crisis by Michael Haneke, and Sofia Coppola's American Civil War thriller The Beguiled starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.

Another highlight will be Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu showcasing a virtual reality project that allows the viewer to walk in the footsteps of refugees.

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