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European cinemas group UNIC backs Cannes Netflix ruling

Exhibitors’ body releases statement in support of festival’s Competition decision.

The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) has released a statement in support of Cannes Film Festival’s ruling on the Netflix controversy.

Before the festival began, Cannes top brass announced that, from 2018, films will be ineligible for its Competition unless they are guaranteed to receive a theatrical release in France.

This followed the inclusion of two Netflix titles - Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories - in this year’s Cannes Competition.

Since the line-up was released in April, bodies including the National Federation of French Cinema (FNCF) had been pressuring the festival to take action.

UNIC, which represents cinema associations and operators across 36 European territories, has backed the festival’s decision.

Following a meeting of UNIC’s board of directors in Cannes, the body released a statement which read, “We would like to express our support for the action of French cinema exhibition colleagues in pressing to ensure that only films intended for theatrical release are in future selected in competition.”

“We believe that leading film festivals around the world should celebrate this social, cultural and economic relevance of cinemas and call onto them to take this into consideration when designing their future selection policies,” it added.

Read the statement in full below.

UNIC statement:

As its 70th edition comes to a close, we would like to express our support for the action of French cinema exhibition colleagues in pressing to ensure that only films intended for theatrical release are in future selected in competition for the Cannes International Film Festival.

The emerging influence of Video on Demand on the wider film value chain is self-evidence, and indeed we continue to argue for the further integration of international VoD operators into established financing systems across Europe. But it will come as no surprise that we also strongly believe in the value brought to a film’s performance, across all aspects of its life-cycle, by an exclusive theatrical release.

In a world where fast-paced cultural experiences increasingly happen on mobile devices – and as a result at the same time often occur in solitude – the shared experience of watching a film on the big screen continues to create a sense of identity and community.

Cinemas are places where important cultural trends and social changes emerge. We believe that leading film festivals around the world should celebrate this social, cultural and economic relevance of cinemas and call onto them to take this into consideration when designing their future selection policies.

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