Can the Cannes: Why the draconian festival deserves to be dumped
If you enjoy complying with an archaic, abrasive set of rules in order to enjoy a glitzy film festival in a luxurious setting (and honestly, who doesn’t live for that?), the Cannes Film Festival is all yours, sweetheart. Notorious for being one of the stuffiest film events in the world, Cannes has become even more draconian in 2018 with a new set of laughably antiquated and tyrannical rules put in place to preserve the “prestige” of the old-fashioned fest. Cannes is on something of a banning spree right now, but we have a few ideas of other things the festival should’ve banned long ago.
Banned: Netflix Original movies
Cannes director Thierry Frémaux announced a new rule outlining the ban of any films without French theatrical distribution from playing in competition at the festival. According to Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, this left the streaming giant with no option but to pull out of the festival completely, telling Variety: “I don’t think there would be any reason to go out of competition. The rule was implicitly about Netflix, and Thierry (Frémaux) made it explicitly about Netflix when he announced the rule . . . They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.”
Sarandos also rather astutely suggested Cannes’s decision is “completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world.” Damn straight. In 2017, there was controversy surrounding Netflix’s appearance at the festival, with people clutching at their pearls over Netflix Originals movies like Okja & The Meyerowitz Stories competing for the Palme d’Or. For them, it signaled the end of the industry as they knew it!
Thankfully, in 2018, Solo: A Star Wars Story will be premiering at Cannes. So it’s nice to know they’re still upholding such high standards of independent film programming while rejecting any of that streaming nonsense, right? High fives all round, Cannes. On Wednesday, supposedly realizing how silly all of this has been, Frémaux appeared to back peddle furiously by assuring the world there had been “constructive dialogue with Netflix, contrary to appearances,” and that Netflix remains “welcome in Cannes.” Sure they do.
What they should have banned: Weinstein Company movies
In the mountains of accusations shared about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct against various women, the Cannes Film Festival featured as a repeat hunting ground for his accused actions. Model Zoë Brock alleged the disgraced producer harassed her at Cannes in 1997 and British actor Kadian Noble alleged she endured similar behavior at the festival in 2014. There are also accusations from Emma de Caunes, Léa Seydoux, Myleene Klass, Alice Evans, and Judith Godrèche involving alleged incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment taking place at or around the Cannes Film Festival.
If (as Rose McGowan has suggested) the producer’s behaviour was the worst kept secret in the industry, it might have been an idea for a festival like Cannes to set an example and ban movies from the Weinstein Company from competition. But no, just keep on blocking those streaming entries. Great job!
It’s worth noting regularly offending director Lars von Trier still appears to be banned from Cannes after he glibly called himself a Nazi at the Melancholia press conference at the festival in 2011. Many anticipated the “Persona Non Grata” filmmaker would be invited back in 2018 with his film The House that Jack Built. Alas Cannes still seem to be witholding an invite from him thus proving that when they really want to keep certain people away they definitely have the power to do so. If this is all about limiting offence or punishing inappropriate behaviour then why stop at von Trier? Cannes could take out half of Hollywood!
Banned: “Grotesque” red carpet selfies
Expressing his concern for how selfies on the red carpet cause “disorder” and tarnish “the quality” of the luxurious screening experience and the festival as a whole, Frémaux announced such frivolous acts of excitement had no home at Cannes. “It’s not beautiful. It’s grotesque. It’s ridiculous . . . We want to restore a bit of decency.” Decency? Of course! We’re right there with you, buddy. But selfies? Aren’t there some other things you should be banning in a bid to restore “decency”?
What they should have banned: Grotesque sexual opportunists
At this stage we don’t need to reel off the big, long, sad list of filmmakers, producers, and actors who are alleged to have used their position of power to delight in a series of alleged sexual misdeeds, do we? All we will say is that there are still sexual assault accusations against Cannes favorite Kevin Spacey being investigated right now by LA prosecutors, while the world refuses to forget the various sexual harassment cases levied against Casey Affleck in 2010 (which was mysteriously only revealed to the public years later). If Frémaux is worried about how red carpet selfies are stripping the event of any decency, he should maybe worry about what alleged sexual predators could do to his precious red carpet, too.
Banned: Flat shoes
Though the #Flatgate scandal was thrown down in 2015, it’s impossible to know whether women will still be turned away from Cannes screenings in 2018 unless they’re tottering about in a pair of stifling stilettos. Screen Daily reported at the time that a number of women in their 50s (some of whom had health conditions) were turned away from the world premiere of Todd Haynes’s lesbian love story Carol because they had the audacity to wear flat shoes. Amy director Asif Kapadia revealed his wife received similar treatment (but was eventually let in) and there were also reports of an amputee refused entry to Gus van Sant’s Sea of Trees for wearing flats.
Frémaux scoffed on Twitter the “rumor” about flat shoes was “unfounded”, while the festival released an official statement announcing “there is no specific mention about the height of the women’s heels” in the dress code policy of the festival, which is perhaps even more confounding. Presumably, even if their dress code policy doesn’t state anything about the height of a woman’s footwear, there’s still a possibility she’ll be refused entry unless she’s in a capricious amount of towering discomfort. So don’t get too comfortable, ladies! You might end up locked out.
What they should have banned: Flat films
By “flat films” we of course mean ones in which female characters have been unfairly misrepresented or underrepresented. How do you expect your film to rise above the rest if your female characters are lacking in development, purpose, or are simply there to exist in a state of undress for a male character to leer at? That’s a flat film, honey, and Cannes could probably set a better precedent for the industry by insisting filmmakers do better – just like how they do with women’s footwear. At a Cannes Press Conference in 2017, outspoken champion of better cinema Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life) called out the festival’s program for its “disturbing” depiction of women.
“This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies. And the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that I saw represented. And it was quite disturbing to me, to be honest . . . I do hope that when we include more female storytellers, we will have more of the women that I recognize in my day-to-day life — ones that are proactive, have their own agency, don’t just react to the men around them. They have their own point of view.”
Banned: Press screenings
Restricting the level of good or bad buzz generated by movies at the festival, Frémaux also announced he was nixing the usual advanced showings for press ahead of the world premiere screenings in the evening. Members of the press will see the 7pm showings at the same time as audiences. Sounding like an evil villain in a cartoon, Frémaux stated “It will be total suspense.” Hopefully he said this while spinning around on a tall, sinister looking chair while stroking a white cat. You do you, Frémaux!
What they should have banned: Themselves
Sit down, Cannes. You’re done.