Will Smith, Almodovar open a testy Cannes Film Festival

Anita Tucker
May 20, 2017

"I prefer absolutely to be seen in not only 190 countries, but always to be seen on a big screen", Almodóvar said to scattered applause from the press.

The Cannes Film Festival runs through May 28, when the Palme d'Or victor and other awards will be announced.

Iranian animated piece "Release from Heaven" by Ali Noori Oskouei will also have its market premier May 22 as opening film of Animation Day in Cannes film festival.

Almodovar took a tough line, telling reporters he could not imagine "the Palme d'Or nor any other prize being given to a film, and then not being able to see that film on a large screen". "You must be small and humble in front of the image that's here".

The festival got off to a rocky start earlier on Wednesday as Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, head of the jury, fired a warning shot at Netflix - declaring that the movie taking home the Palm d'Or should be shown in cinemas.

Organizers of the annual festival had already muted any excitement over Netflix's Cannes debut earlier this month when they announced a policy change that takes effect next year and will bar any streaming films from screening at the Cannes festival unless they also have a traditional theatrical release in France.

The sci-fi film was produced by three Hollywood studios - Plan B, Lewis Pictures and Kate Street Picture Company - and stars Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal of "Nightcrawler" and "Everest", and Paul Dano of "Love & Mercy" and "12 Years a Slave". "All this doesn't mean I'm not open or don't celebrate the new technologies". With Netflix they get the benefit to watch what they never would have seen, it brings great connectivity to them to the world. Because of this, next year all movies will have to be available in French theatres or they can't compete at the festival.

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Last week festival organisers changed the rules to effectively ban Netflix films in future, insisting that movies in competition must be shown on the big screen afterwards.

Apparently very happy to be part of this jury presided by the huge Pedro Almodóvar, Will Smith - particularly seductive - spent a long time cuckooing and sending kisses to the onlookers who came to applaud him and his co-jurors.

Security was greater than ever at the French festival, with stepped up efforts to restrict access and even an anti-drone system. This is also the first festival held since the nearby Nice attack past year that killed 86 people.

France remains under a state of emergency following the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, one of several jihadist assaults that have claimed 239 lives nationwide in the past two years.

With his shock of grey hair and bright red sunglasses, Pedro Almodovar cut quite the distinctive figure as he led his jury members into their first official press conference.

The extravaganza's opening ceremony on Wednesday evening will be hosted by Italian actress Monica Bellucci, with French drama "Ismael's Ghosts", starring Marion Cotillard, as the opening film.

Other reports by My Hot News

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