Netflix has been banned from competing in the Cannes Film Festival, which means its movies can't win the Palme d'Or, the event's top honour and considered one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. Cannes head Theirry Fremaux said that Netflix can still showcase its films out of competition at the festival.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Fremaux said the decision to ban Netflix had come out of the streaming service's refusal to release its movies in French theatres, and instead opting to release directly on its platform, or in some cases, release simultaneously in theatres and on Netflix. French theatrical distribution laws prevent a film from appearing on streaming services until three years after its release, which obviously doesn't work for Netflix.
Netflix had two films in Cannes' competition section last year: Bong Joon-ho's Okja, and Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). Both films were unable to secure a theatrical release in France because Netflix applied for permits too late, per THR, and the decision to allow them in Cannes was heavily controversial with French filmmakers and cinema unions.
“Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in cinemas. I was presumptuous, they refused," Fremaux told THR. “The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films. But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours." Fremaux also mentioned Amazon in his remarks, which has been more flexible than Netflix in its release schedule, though it's still nowhere near the 3-year French rule.
It's clear that Cannes has given in to the pressure from its French supporters. How this affects filmmakers signing with Netflix, and whether this'll expand to other prestigious film festivals – Berlin, Locarno, and Venice among others – remains to be seen.