Like any number of superheroes, antiheroes, or just generically heroic dudes he’s played over the years, Will Smith swooped in to defend Netflix today, after one of his fellow Cannes jury members spoke out on the controversy surrounding the inclusion of the company’s movies in this year’s festival. Smith—a first-time juror who reportedly dazzled pretty much everybody in attendance by dint of being certified movie star Will Smith—spoke up after his fellow jury member, director Pedro Almodóvar, read a pre-written statement in which he said he personally did “not conceive, not only the Palme d’Or,” but also “any other prize” being “given to a film and not being able to see this film on a big screen,” throwing his support behind “the capacity of the hypnosis of the large screen for the viewer.”
Netflix’s status has been the subject of a great deal of cineaste controversy at this year’s festival, with filmmakers and critics protesting the inclusion of movies, like Bong Joon-Ho’s Okja, that debuted online simultaneously or before arriving in French cinemas. (The company is currently facing a similar argument, re: the Oscars, in the States.) Netflix’s movies were ultimately let into Cannes, but only grudgingly.
But Smith stepped in to defend the company, noting the positive impact it’s had on his kids’ artistic discovery. “In my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit,” Smith said. “They get to see films they absolutely wouldn’t have seen. Netflix brings a great connectivity. There are movies that are not on a screen within 8,000 miles of them. They get to find those artists.” Cynics might note that Netflix is distributing Smith’s next film—Bright—or that watching a movie at a multi-millionaire’s house probably isn’t all that different from seeing them in a theater. Still, it was a surprising bit of assertiveness for the new (and very, very famous) kid on the jury block.
Meanwhile, you can read our own coverage of the most interesting new films at Cannes, courtesy of film editor A.A. Dowd, right here.
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