70th Cannes Int'l Film Festival kicks off

This time, it's official: the Cannes Film Festival is back on the Croisette. He added that "Okja" was an "amazing film that theatre chains want to block us from entering into Cannes film festival competition". The festival begins on May 17 and runs until May 29.

CANNES, France (AP) - The 70th Cannes Film Festival opened Wednesday under sunny Cote D'Azur skies and the high-wattage smiles of stars including Will Smith and Marion Cotillard.

Elsewhere at the festival, veteran British actress Vanessa Redgrave on Wednesday unveiled her first film as a director - "Sea Sorrow", a documentary about Europe's migrant crisis. But rancor and controversy have characterized the preamble to Cannes, as well as its opening day.

This year, Cannes selected two Netflix releases - Bong Joon-ho's Okja and Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories - for its Palme d'Or competition.

The powerhouses of global cinema have all assembled at the Cannes Film Festival, as they do year after year, but it seems that all anyone can talk about is Netflix. The theaters trade organization has demanded that Netflixs two movies be removed from this years festival.

The Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown director said he could not conceive the Palme d'Or - or any other prize - "being given to a film and then not being able to see the film on a big screen". Festival organisers tried to negotiate a compromise, with a "limited release" of the movies in France mooted. "The size [of the screen] should not be smaller than the chair on which you're sitting". It should not be part of your everyday setting.

Well, tell us how you really feel.

However, one actor that came to their defense was Will Smith, who is a juror at the festival this year.

Smith described Netflix in his home as an "absolute benefit." Why? Well, the last question gets a sort-of answer, with the latest poster for Netflix's upcoming film.

Having already conquered the world of prestige TV, Netflix is now intent on doing the same with film (see their recent domination of acquisitions at Sundance).

But, in a country where movies shown in cinemas can not be streamed for three years, Netflix refused to arrange distribution across France - meaning "Okja", starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, and "The Meyerowitz Stories", with Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman, will not be seen on the big screen after their Cannes premiere. And now they get to find those artists and they look them up online and they make contact.

Almodovar obviously sides with the festival, but his statement, read out in Spanish, English and French, was highly unusual given his leading role on the nine-member jury.

"West Philadelphia is a long way from Cannes", joked an enthusiastic Smith, referring to his hometown.

With France still under a state of emergency due to a raft of Islamist attacks, Cannes 2017 - the festival's 70th outing - will be under tighter security than ever, but that will not dampen spirits, according to the Hollywood Reporter's Scott Roxborough. This is also the first festival held since the nearby Nice attack past year that killed 86 people. Festival organizers have said everything was being done to maintain safety and the event's celebratory atmosphere.

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