Cannes, Netflix and the future of cinema

Old media vs new. Cinematic experiences in a theater or streaming in the comfort of your living room with Netflix. Pedro Almodóvar or Will Smith. These are the dichotomies that have dominated the 2017 Cannes Film Festival — the most prestigious film festival in the world.

Cannes has been the preeminent film festival since its origins in 1945 — where “Rome, Open City” won the top film award — the Palme d’Or — and set in stone both the Italian neorealist movement and the international acclaim that was to follow for the festival located in Southern France.

In the 70 festivals since, Palme d’Or-winning filmmakers such as Akira Kurosawa, Agnès Varda, François Truffaut, Abbas Kiarostami, Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Haneke, Martin Scorsese, Michelangelo Antonioni, the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino have all launched their illustrious careers (or cemented them) at the festival. These are all filmmakers who have pushed the limits of cinema, or showed new ways for stories to be told in those communal, dark theaters.

Then came streaming services that threatened to take down the cultural power that cinema has possessed from the early 20th century up until now. Netflix, in particular, poses a problem for filmmakers and film exhibitors, and in some cases, hardcore cinephiles. Big screen theater experiences for spectators — with the chance of discussion afterward, thanks to the large theater-going group format — is slowly dissipating from normal viewing habits. Instead, people now watch the newest…

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