The Cannes Film Festival begins: a losing fight against streaming platforms?

The Cannes Film Festival begins: a losing fight against streaming platforms?

The Cannes Film Festival celebrates its 75th edition

Special delivery – The cannes film festival still trying to get back to normal since the pandemic started. And not being able to do it at all, he has chosen to accommodate himself to the times. In his way. In 2020, the festival was first postponed and then finally cancelled. In 2021, it was postponed until July (something unusual in its history) and it was done with extreme care and security measures: mandatory tests for all participants every 48 hours, having to get tickets for movies that were previously only accessed with credentials , a smaller number of people in theaters and the feeling that it had been a rearrangement edition, halfway between a traditional one and what would come in the future.

The edition that begins today, which marks the 75th anniversary of the event, is presented as a return to the sources, with visits from Tom Cruise, Kristen Stewart, Anthony Hopkins, Michelle Williams and dozens of other stars, along with the traditional red carpets full of photographers and the usual curious looking for their selfie with someone with a face celebrity. However, even before arriving in the city, a different aroma is perceived. Not because of the chinstraps (here everyone seems to have forgotten about the pandemic and since yesterday they don’t even ask for them to enter closed places) nor because of the enormous amount of paperwork that must be done to get to France. Nor because of the digital ticket distribution system that works lousy and has everyone annoyed. But because one has the feeling that the Cannes Festival that existed until 2019 is at a critical moment in which it considers how to continue and what to do from now on.

The explosion of content platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, HBO Max or Apple TV today are the big players in the international market –more than the classic Hollywood studios–, but here they are still practically ignored. The French have a healthy cinematographic tradition linked to theaters, but it is very difficult for them to maintain that position when the greatest directors and the most important films today are released on those platforms. How to recover ground? Bow your head and accept defeat by letting Netflix and company come in with everything – as Venice has done, for example – or keep Cannes as a refuge for auteur cinema that also refuses to go over to platforms?

To this unresolved problem we must add another: the international dominance of the great blockbusters and their multiverses, with Marvel/Disney/Star Wars at the helm, already seems irreversible. And Cannes is looking for a way to give them a space without altering the meaning of the event, linked to showing other types of films that are not those that are released in thousands of theaters in the same weekend. That space will occupy this year Top Gun: Maverickfraud Cruise; Or until Elvisfrom Baz Luhrmanbut with the rest of the commercial cinema of Hollywood a strong tension continues to exist.

"Top Gun: Maverick"with Tom Cruise, one of the few tanks that he features in his programming
“Top Gun: Maverick”, with Tom Cruise, one of the few tanks that he presents in his programming

The problems continue. Except for very specific exceptions (when important names like David Lynch either Jane Campion are behind), Cannes does not want anything to do with the series either. This year there will be one of the Italian Marco Bellocchio about the murder of aldo moor and the serial version of irma seethan Olivier Assayas filmed before as a film, but nothing more. Back: the logic of the festival to remain faithful to Cinema with capital letters is understood and it is also true that the series, due to their duration, do not adapt very well to this type of event, but it adds another “fashionable” element that Cannes is left out of. And, except for the parallel sections, the festival continues to pay no attention to programming the same number of films directed by women as by men.

And what haunts the Croisette – the chaotic coastal street that connects all the festival rooms and hotels, where almost everything is plotted and organized – is the feeling that something is going to change here. The president of the festival was replaced by the former director of Warner France (it is a somewhat symbolic place but the message left by the change is clear), they have added a short video competition organized by TikTok, the artistic director of the Directors’ Fortnight will be moved after this edition, perhaps to make room for a section that is more “accessible” to the general public and the claim that is heard from a good part of the industry is to twist the arm of an event that, with its thousands of problems, tries to Fight the Same Old Fight: Keeping the Flame of International Arthouse Cinema Alive

Vincent Lindon, President of the Jury of the 75th Cannes Film Festival
Vincent Lindon, President of the Jury of the 75th Cannes Film Festival

Yes, it is true, that cinema has become something for few, it has become a smaller market (almost marginal at this point) and the prizes won do not matter as much as they did decades ago, but Cannes stands up for the defense of those great filmmakers who are at risk of disappearing or that no one finances a film anymore if there are no windows like this one. And this year recognized names such as David Cronenberg, Claire Denis, Park Chan-wookBrothers Darden, Kelly Reichardt, Ruben Ostlund Y George Milleramong others, along with many who are just beginning to make a place for themselves in this world and hope to consecrate themselves here.

That place is also tried to be sustained by even lesser-known filmmakers who circulate through the parallel sections and competitions, who are neither American nor European. Latin America has Chilean, Colombian and Costa Rican films in those sections and there are filmmakers from other countries that we will discover as the days of a festival start off with a lot of intrigue. The challenge at Cannes is the same as always but more complicated than ever: to keep the passion for arthouse cinema alive when almost everyone seems to be looking the other way. will it?

A general view shows the Festival Palace and the Bay of Cannes
A general view shows the Festival Palace and the Bay of Cannes

Latin America in Cannes

Without titles in the official competition, the Latin American presence this year in Cannes is much smaller. The festival presents Sunday and the fogfrom Ariel Escalante Meza (Costa Rica) in Un Certain Regard; my imaginary countryof the veteran documentary filmmaker Patrick Guzman (Chile) in special functions; A malefrom Fabian Hernandez (Colombian) and 1976from Manuela Martelli (Chile) in the Directors’ Fortnight and The packfrom Andres Ramirez Pulido (Colombia) in the Critics’ Week. In addition to that, a few short films (the Argentine representation is reduced to the spiralshort of Maria Silvia Estevein the Fortnight) and a couple of minority stakes in co-productions. Little, very little for a festival that claims to bet on diversity.


Spectators take the floor: Mariano Pensotti and his film trilogy arrive at Malba
“Atlas”: a surreal film about the ghosts of cruelty in science
“A love close to paradise”, the cloying side of Finnish cinema


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here