Spike Lee, Godard films to compete at Netflix-free Cannes

The director of the Cannes Film Festival called the Harvey Weinstein “an earthquake” — but he said that the quality of films, not gender quotas, remains the top factor in selecting movies for this year’s festival lineup.

Organizers unveiled Thursday the 18 movies competing for the Palme d’Or next month, with a lineup that includes new movies by Spike Lee and Jean-Luc Godard.

“The world is not the same anymore,” Thierry Frémaux  told a press conference, referring to the aftermath of the Weintsein scandal.

“But the movies we selected have been chosen for their intrinsic qualities. There will never be a positive discrimination.”

The movies we selected have been chosen for their intrinsic qualities. There will never be a positive discrimination.– Thierry  Frémaux ,  Cannes

Although Frémaux said he recognized the importance of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, he said the selection process for the festival should not include gender quotas, and that all the female directors he spoke with recently agreed with him.

Only three female directors — Nadine Labaki, Alice Rohrwacher and Eva Husson — are included in the list of 18 competing movies. Frémaux said a fourth female film maker could be added to the competition before the May 8-19 event starts on the French Riviera.

Only three female directors — Nadine Labaki, from left, Alice Rohrwacher and Eva Husson — are included in the list of 18 competing movies at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. (Getty Images)

“It’s true that they are very rare, but there are more and more female directors,” Frémaux said.

“And I have to say that —Kathryn Bigelow aside — all the female directors who broke through over the last three decades came here to show their movies.”

New faces at Cannes

Frémaux added that his team will discuss their pay equality practices. He noted that more women than men already worked for the festival.

While pointing out that only one female director has won the festival’s top prize — Jane Campion for The Piano back in 1993 — Frémaux said that two women, Cate Blanchett and Ursula Meier, will preside over the official competition and Golden Camera juries this year.

He said this year’s selection, which also includes Oscar-winning director Pawel Pawlikowski’s new film Zimna Wojna (Cold War), will help promote new faces.

“There are some people one might not have expected to be there,” he said.

Among those invited to compete are Iranian film director Jafar Panahi — with Three Faces — and Russian film maker Kirill Serebrennikov. Panahi was held in custody in 2010 for his criticism of Iran, while Serebrennikov has been placed under house arrest.

New films from Spike Lee, left, and Jean-Luc Godard will compete for the festival’s top prize. (Associated Press/Getty Images)

Lee’s BlacKkKlansman will open in theaters on Aug. 10 — the one-year anniversary of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists marched and a protester was killed.

The film is about the real-life story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer in Colorado who went undercover in 1978 to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington plays Stallworth in the film and Adam Driver plays his partner.

Godard’s movie Le Livre d’Image (The Image Book) is described as a “revolutionary song in five chapters.”

Netflix spat

Frémaux also addressed the festival’s tense relationships with Netflix a day after Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer, said the streaming giant was pulling its films from the festival.

‘They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there,’ Netflix head Ted Sarandos said of the streaming service withdrawing its films from the Cannes Film Festival. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Cannes earlier banned any films without theatrical distribution in France from its Palme d’Or competition, essentially ruling out Netflix movies.

In France, films can’t be released on home entertainment platforms until 36 months after their theatrical release and, last year, theatre exhibitors protested the festival’s inclusion of two Netflix films — Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories and Bong Joon-ho’s Okja — in its official competition. 

Netflix movies are released either day-and-date — on Netflix as well as in some theatres — or simply on the streaming service alone.

“Despite appearances, we have a fruitful dialogue, Netflix is welcome in Cannes, let’s keep talking,” Frémaux  said. 

He however rued that their dispute prevented the restoration of Orson Welles’ unfinished movie The Other Side of The Wind from being included in the festival’s out-of-competition program this year.

Previously announced titles include opening night film Todos Lo Saben (Everybody Knows) by Oscar-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi and Solo: A Star Wars Story by Ron Howard.


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