You can always rely on the French.  When a certain Gallic arrogance and disdain is required, they can always be relied upon.

Now the French Arthouse cinema group CICAE (International Confederation of Art Cinemas) are unhappy.  They represent many more niche film exhibitors in Europe.  In a strongly worded response, they have referred to the Venice Film Festival’s inclusion of multiple Netflix films in its line-up a:

“momentous mistake”.

Marriage Story, The Laundromat, and The King are Netflix content, and they were all featured at Venice.

The CICAE sent out a long letter, not pulling any punches.  They openly criticised Venice, other festivals and the streaming model itself.  The model which directly bypasses exhibitors.

Francois Ayme, the President of CICAE’s French chapter, said the industry was at a turning point:

“The co-operation between the main events (Cannes, Venice, Berlin), all facing Netflix with a united front, could once again compel the platform to reconsider its position. Nothing is irreversible and the conundrum over the release of Martin Scorsese’s new movie clearly shows that nothing is settled.

For the last sixty years, if national television channels wanted to have their place in the sun on the Lido, they had to respect some rules; co-produce films and diffuse them after their releases in cinemas. Should the global online platforms be exempted de facto from these obligations?

General interest in films only comes after the special interest of a powerful company and the short-term vision of a festival largely funded by public money. Small companies are obliged to pay their taxes while multinational carry out tax optimisation.

Netflix is just like a large restaurant chain which would like to get three Michelin stars. It does have the ambition and the financial means, but it does not have the essence, let alone the vocation. Supporting and communication this ambition without negotiation is to betray the initial mission of a major festival, which must defend the works first and foremost.”

The International Union Of Cinemas (UNIC) also backed calls for festival screenings to require a theatrical release to qualify.

Last year Netflix was at the centre of a lot of debate.  Despite the letter, things have been much calmer this year as the industry seems to grudgingly accept they are here to stay.