Orson Welles daughter Beatrice has added her voice to the on-going dispute between Cannes and Netflix. The actress and designer, who also administers the Orson Welles estate, sent a letter to Netflixs chief content officer Ted Sarandos on Sunday asking him to reconsider his plan not to send her fathers film The Other Side Of The Wind to the festival.
“I was very upset and troubled to read in the trade papers about the conflict with the Cannes Film Festival,” Beatrice said in an e-mail, portions of which were made available to Vanity Fair. “I have to speak out for my father.”
She went on to plead for Netflix and Cannes to make good their disagreement, relating such spats to those her father had with major studios. “I saw how the big production companies destroyed his life, his work, and in so doing a little bit of the man I loved so much,” she wrote. “I would so hate to see Netflix be yet another one of these companies…Please reconsider and let my fathers work be the movie that bridges the gap between Netflix and Cannes.”
The Citizen Kane director had a strong bond with Cannes, winning the festivals then equivalent of the Palme dOr and heading its competition jury. According to Vanity Fair Sarandos responded to Welles email, but, as we now know, didnt see eye to eye with the festival.
Netflix financed the post-production on long-gestating The Other Side Of The Wind, and had planned to premiere the movie at Cannes ahead of its release on the streaming platform in the fall. But the streaming service ultimately decided to withdraw from Cannes after the festival stood by its decision not to allow movies in competition which dont have a windowed theatrical release.
The movie, which Welles shot in the 1970s, tells the story of a director played by John Huston, who returns to Hollywood after years in Europe, with what he hopes will be a comeback film. Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux spoke yesterday of his “desire” for the film to screen in Cannes.
The films producer Filip Jan Rymsza has also had his say this week, taking to the movies official Indiegogo page to express his “disappointment” and “heartbreak” over the films omission from the Riviera festival. He said the team behind the film “fought long and hard to persuade Netflix” to allow the movie to screen at Cannes and that “everyone loses” by it not being there. “Granted, Im conflicted in my emotions,” he continued. “There would be no The Other Side Of The Wind without Netflix, but that doesnt lessen my disappointment and heartbreak.”
While there is a uniquely French context here, in many ways this whole issue also encapsulates films complex position at the crossroads of art and commerce. It also raises a question Welles himself [and many others have] loved to dispute: whos movie is it, anyway? While it is certainly sad festival goers will miss out on seeing an Orson Welles film in Cannes, filmmakers must also fully understand the implications behind specific funding decisions made by a streaming service such as Netflix, which is also a studio business lest we forget.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.