Netflix's semi-enforced absence from Cannes will continue for a second year, it was revealed as festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux and president Pierre Lescure revealed the initial line up for this year's event. Some of the most hotly tipped titles of this year's festival season will be sidestepping the Croisette for a second consecutive year just because they're on Netflix, following in the footsteps of last year's multi-Oscar winning Roma.
Martin Scorsese's mob epic The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci; Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromat with Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman; and Noah Baumbach's Henry V drama The King, featuring Timothée Chalamet, all Netflix productions, will be premiering elsewhere, most likely Venice or Toronto later in the year.
How did the Cannes and Netflix beef begin?
The spat began after 2017's festival, when Cannes welcomed both Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories and Bong Joon Ho's Okja in its competition line-up. French distributors and cinema owners took exception to this as Netflix does not routinely give its films major cinema releases, and Fremaux, who it is believed has no personal issue with Netflix, was pushed to take action.
By way of a compromise, Fremaux announced that for 2018's festival, Netflix could not enter its films as part of the festival's "in competition" section, though it can still enter its movies out of competition. Netflix wasn't happy with this however – the streamer clearly takes awards seriously, having spent an estimated $40m on Roma's successful Oscars push, and so withdrew from the festival entirely. Roma and fellow Netflix title The Ballad of Buster Scruggs both opened at Venice last year, where Roma took home the Golden Lion while Scruggs picked up the Best Screenplay award.
It’s hard to see how the two sides can reach a compromise: the French exhibitors are demanding a full cinema release and a three-year window before Netflix moves its films to streaming after theatre release, which Netflix will never accept. Netflix, meanwhile, clearly wants to be in competition, which it’s hard to see the exhibitors accepting.
Netflix reportedly declined to offer any films for submission this year, so for the time being, it looks like Cannes’ loss could be Venice’s gain.
So, if no Netflix, what will be at Cannes?
While Cannes may be bereft of Netflix movies this year, there are still plenty of films to anticipate at the festival. Of particular local interest, 2002's Grand Jury Prize winner, Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, returns to Cannes with It Must Be Heaven, which draws parallels between global cities and Palestine, and will screen in competition.
Mounia Meddour's Algerian civil war drama Papicha will screen in the Un Certain Regard section.
Also among the initial slate of competition titles announced were Pedro Almodovar's Pain and Glory, The Traitor from Marco Bellocchio and Parasite from Bong Joon-ho. Fremaux said that Quentin Tarantino's new film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which was expected to debut at the festival, is not ready yet but could still be added to the line-up as long as it is finished in time, with many more more films due to be added to the programme between now and May.
There are 13 female filmmakers featured in the lineup so far, Fremaux highlighted. And, as he usually does, he said the festival would add some more films in the near future.
Jim Jarmusch's zombie comedy The Dead Don't Die, also in competition and featuring a star-studded cast including Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Adam Driver, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits and Selena Gomez will open this year's festival, while five-time Oscar-winning Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will lead the main competition jury for the Palme d'Or.
Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, whose Capernaum was nominated in the best foreign-language film category at the Academy Awards this year, will head up the Un Certain Regard jury.
Among the highlights of the out of competition selection is Dexter Fletcher's Elton John biopic Rocketman. The director will finally get his name on a big ticket music biopic following his uncredited work on Bohemian Rhapsody, which he completed after the original director, Brian Singer was sacked after a series of controversies.
See the full Cannes line-up so far below:
Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar
The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio
Wild Goose Lake, Yinan Diao
Parasite, Bong Joon-ho
Young Ahmed, The Dardenne Brothers
Oh Mercy!, Arnaud Desplechin
Atlantique, Mati Diop
Matthias and Maxime, Xavier Dolan
Little Joe, Jessica Hausner
Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach
Les Miserables, Ladj Ly
A Hidden Life (previously known as Radegund), Terrence Malik
Nighthawk, Kleber Mendonca Filho, Juliano Dornelles
The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumboiu
Frankie, Ira Sachs
The Dead Don't Die, Jim Jarmusch
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Celine Sciamma
It Must Be Heaven, Elia Suleiman
Sybil, Justine Triet
Out of Competition
Rocketman, Dexter Fletcher
The Best Years of Life, Claude Lelouch
Maradona, Asif Kapadia
La Belle Epoque, Nicolas Bedos
Too Old to Die Young, Nicolas Winding Refn (TV series screening 2 episodes)
Share, Pippa Bianco
Family Romance LLC, Werner Herzog
Tommaso, Abel Ferrara
To Be Alive and Know It, Alain Cavalier
For Sama, Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil, Lee Won-Tae
Un Certain Regard
Invisible Life, Karim Aïnouz
Beanpole, Kantemir Balagov
The Swallows of Kabul, Zabou Breitman & Eléa Gobé Mévellec
A Brother's Love, Monia Chokri
The Climb, Michael Covino
Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont
A Sun That Never Sets, Olivier Laxe
Chambre 212, Christophe Honoré
Port Authority, Danielle Lessovitz
Papicha, Mounia Meddour
Adam, Maryam Touzani
Zhuo Ren Mi Mi, Midi Z
Liberte, Albert Serra
Bull, Annie Silverstein
Summer of Changsha, Zu Feng
EVGE, Nariman Aliev