Netflix pulls films from Cannes after facing competition ban

"It was not our decision to make."

Netflix has pulled its films from Cannes Film Festival following a row between the two entertainment giants.

The streaming service was recently banned from competing for Cannes’ prestigious Palme d’Or, after festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux confirmed that all films vying for the top spot will require a cinema release in France.

The new ruling is a direct response to the controversy that the festival faced last year, when two Netflix films were entered in competition for the Palme d’Or despite not being released in cinemas.

Responding to the new rules, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote on Facebook: “The establishment is closing ranks against us.”

Now, in an interview with Variety, Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos said of the company pulling out of Cannes: “It was not our decision to make.”

“We want our films to be on fair ground with every other film-maker,” he added. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and film-makers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.”

“We hope that they do change the rules,” Sarandos said. “We hope that they modernize. But we will continue to support all films and all film-makers. We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back.”

Five Netflix films had been scheduled for a Cannes premiere included Norway, Paul Greengrass’ biopic about the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.

Other films included Hold the Dark, a thriller starring Alexander Skarsgård; Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, Orson Welles documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, and a newly restored version of Welles’s famously unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind.

Hold The Dark director Jeremy Saulnier told IndieWire: “It’s a shame, I think it could’ve caused a stir”.

“But it will ultimately be better for the film to be showcased at festivals later this year, closer to the release. Also, who the hell wants to be booed at the first presentational credit of your film, especially when it’s disparaging the entity that made the film possible in the first place? That’s where I’m a fierce defender of Netflix.”