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Will Smith and Pedro Almodóvar Clash over Netflix at Cannes Film Festival


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Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar and Hollywood actor Will Smith have clashed over whether Netflix movies should be considered for film awards on the first day of the Cannes Film Festival. 

Credit: Programme TV

The row comes as a result of an argument that has been building about whether Netflix films should have a place at the festival after it was decided that, as of next year, the only films eligible to win the Palme d’Or prize must be shown in French cinemas.

Had this been the case this year, the two Netflix films nominated for the award, Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories, would have been excluded.

Both Smith and Almodóvar are on the jury who will grant the award at Cannes this year but have vastly differing opinions when it comes to Netflix’s involvement in the festival.

Almodóvar has made it clear that he believes films that aren’t aired at the cinema should not be considered for prizes. In a statement during the festival's first press conference he said that whilst he wasn't "not open" to the use of new technology, it would be an “enormous paradox” if any prize “went to a film that cannot be seen in cinemas.”

The veteran filmmaker's argument seemed to be concerned with saving cinema for the new generation and his comments made it clear that he saw Netflix as a threat to the preservation of the big screen.

However, fellow jury member Smith followed Almodóvar’s strong comments by stating that Netflix and the cinema are “two different forms of entertainment” and that Netflix in fact allows for a “great amount of connectivity.” He went on to say that the streaming service had “absolutely no effect” on movie goers, using the example of his children who he said go to the cinema twice a week and watch Netflix.

Smith is currently working with Netflix on his upcoming movie Bright which is set to release later this year, and his comments at the festival further showed he was a believer in the service.

The debate as to Netflix’s place at film festivals and award ceremonies will no doubt continue as the streaming giant continues to expand by producing more and more original movies.

See the trailer for Smith's new film below.

The Cannes Film Festival will be running until the 28th May with Jessica Chastain also joining Smith and Almodóvar on the jury.

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