Netflix Movies Banned at Cannes—Should They Be Included in Awards & Festivals?

Steve Dietl

We all know streaming services are taking over the world. Mega-hit shows such as Stranger Things on Netflix and The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu are picking up awards left and right and gaining tremendous followings.

Now, joining in on the Netflix action are TV movies. For example, in 2017, Netflix’s Mudbound picked up 4 Oscar nominations and was only released in theaters for a short period to qualify under the Academy’s guidelines.

Veteran director and multi-Oscar winner Steven Spielberg doesn’t agree with this philosophy. He said in an interview with ITV News while promoting his new sci-fi film, Ready Player One: “I don’t believe that films that are given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for Academy Award nominations.”

“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. If it’s a good show, you deserve an Emmy. But not an Oscar,” he added.

However, he did praise the quality and breadth of work on the small screen today. “Television is really thriving with quality and art but it poses a clear and present danger to filmgoers,” Spielberg said, noting that studios are more likely to make “branded, tent-pole guaranteed box office hits from their inventory” than “take chances on smaller films.”

In agreement with Spielberg is the coveted Cannes Film Festival. Director Thierry Fremaux revealed in an interview on Friday that films from Netflix and other streaming services will not be eligible to be compete for the festival’s highest award, the Palme d’Or.

This is a complete 180 from last year’s event, where two Netflix movies—Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories—premiered. But there seems to be some bureaucratic red tape involved.

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Netflix was supposed to release the two films into French theaters for larger audiences (instead of just streaming them), but under a French law, a 36-month waiting period has to occur between the movie’s release date and streaming date, according to The New York Times. Netflix attempted to obtain special permits, but to no avail, and the movies were stream-able regardless.

“The festival asked Netflix in vain to accept that these two films could reach the audience of French movie theaters and not only its subscribers,” read a statement from the festival to The New York Times. “Hence the Festival regrets that no agreement has been reached.”

Oh, and the cherry on top of a disappointing cake? Cannes is also banning selfies on the red carpet.