Will Smith sticks up for Netflix on heated Cannes jury

Cannes Film Festival and Netflix square off over the inclusion of streaming releases

Entirely coincidentally of course, Smith, a judge on the Cannes Film Festival panel, is starring in a film to be released on Netflix later this year.

The 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival runs May 17 - 28.

The Spanish director, who has had five films in the competition since 1999 - most recently Julieta past year - was asked by a journalist if he would rather have his films seen in 190 countries (i.e., on a streaming service) or win a Palme d'Or.

(Thibault Camus). A view of the palais du festival at the 70th global film festival, Cannes, southern France, Monday, May 15, 2017. "[My children] get to see films they absolutely wouldn't have seen". On Wednesday, director Pedro Almodóvar, who's presiding over this year's competition jury, made a controversial statement regarding the inclusion of Netflix films in the festival.

The streaming giant's two films are among 19 vying for the Palme d'Or, which also include "Happy End", a film set against the backdrop of Europe's migrant crisis by "Amour" director Michael Haneke, and Sofia Coppola's American Civil War thriller "The Beguiled" starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.

Looking dashing in black tux, Smith joked about his hometown to a group of festival goers, saying, "West Philadelphia is a long way from Cannes".

Jury president Pedro Almodovar, the Spanish director who has been in competition at Cannes four times, said he hoped to discover what he described as a cinematic miracle.

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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.

"There's very little cross between going to the cinema and watching what they watch on Netflix", he mused, saying they were "two different forms of entertainment" and that Netflix "brings a great amount of connectivity". And now they get to find those artists and they look them up online and they make contact.

Security was greater than ever at the French festival, with stepped up efforts to restrict access and even an anti-drone system. France remains under a state of emergency since the November 2015 Paris attacks.

When the topic was raised at the press conference Wednesday, Almodovar sided with the theater owners. Festival organizers have said everything was being done to maintain safety and the event's celebratory atmosphere. Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan, Nice, one year ago.

"Since Sept. 11, Cannes has ... maximized security measures", festival director Thierry Fremaux said in an interview.

In the Cannes version, a new envelope was brought out and the interaction dissolved into a dance that ended with a kiss from Bellucci.

This year was the first time the festival backed on its policy to only shortlist movies which could premiere in French cinemas.

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