What a day! The reason being was that I spent the entire day at THE Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF for short). I managed to fit in three films that all varied in quality, but even the bad one was somewhat enjoyable due to the environment and energy around me. The Film Festival is such a fun and enjoyable place to be and it reminded me of how great the theatrical experience is. All of this, by chance, dovetailed with the news that came out this week about Cannes and Netflix falling out. Due to these events lining up, I thought I could relay my most recent experience with a film festival to this little bit of news and what it means to me. So here we go.
To start I'd like to detail my time with the festival this year and what I saw. Firstly, my lineup was nominal but enjoyable; It consisted of "American Animals", "Boy Band", and "Lean on Pete". The best film was hands down "American Animals" which is an insane blend or narrative documentary that leaves stunning and head spinning results. But it wasn't just watching this movie that lead me to enjoy it so much. Yes, it is an exquisitely crafted and masterful film from director Bart Layton but there was something more that helped me enjoy not just this movie but all the movies I saw at CIFF.
Seeing a film this high quality at a festival where everyone is just buzzing about movies is an experience like few others. There's just an energy around the film there and film in general that you can't find anywhere else. The people who are there have made an active effort to come and enjoy these films that they can't find anywhere else and it elevates the theatrical experience in a way that doesn't really have a parallel.
Which brings me to how all of this fits into Cannes and Netflix and their most recent falling out. For those not up to speed, Cannes allowed Netflix films to debut in competition with the promise that they would get theatrical distribution. Netflix's answer to this was to release the films in two cities in the US. Cannes, a French-based festival, felt played that there was no theatrical release in France. So in order to make sure this didn't happen again they implemented a new rule that said any film that played at Cannes had to have a theatrical release in France. As you'd expect Netflix decided that they would pull out of Cannes and hold all the filmmakers under them, hostage.
There have already been countless filmmakers who pleaded with Netflix to allow their films to premiere at the prestigious festival. Alfonso Cuaron and Orson Welles' Daughter are just among a few who have tried to appeal to Netflix to no avail. All of this just feels wrong to me, I appreciate Netflix as a service and how much content they produce and distribute. But the way they have always chosen to distribute their films has always given me pause. The way filmmakers like Cuaron, Joon-Ho, Baumbach, and so many more are treated as if they are just doing a service for Netflix instead of making art. If a filmmaker of this stature is making a film for your company they should have a say in how and where it premieres. This is tenfold for Orson Welles' new and final film.
I may sound pretentious or preachy, but it genuinely pains me that some of these films won't be seen in a festival environment. It is where a film like "Roma" or "The Other Side of the Wind" really should be seen and experienced. There is no argument that can sway me when I say that a film is best enjoyed in a theatrical setting. Plain and simple that is just the truth and festivals like these often represent the only time a film from Netflix gets any theatrical screening. Unless of course, they are willing to start distributing there projects theatrically which is just about the most unlikely thing in the entire world.
Hopefully, Netflix is willing to be more collaborative with a festival as prestigious and large as Cannes and soon because the only people who are losing are the people who really love making the movies and the people who really love watching them.
That is all for my rant this week, thanks for reading and I hope everyone had a good week. Not only that but I hope everyone has a good week this week as I continue to plow through my Marvel movie marathon on the road to Infinity War which is only two weeks away! In the meantime, have a chuckle at a hilarious sketch from SNL last night and prepare yourselves for Donald Glover hosting on May 5th.
Movies seen in 2018: 51