Cannes 2018, Netflix, Orson Welles, Nandita Das’s Manto and #MeToo

Posted on April 16, 2018


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Does the distribution model determine what cinema is? The ongoing war between Netflix and the Cannes film festival – which recently announced its line-up for the coming edition (more on that later) – has brought this question to the forefront. Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux said, “Any film in competition should be open to distribution in theatres.” As a film-lover, as someone who’s grown up watching movies on the big screen, one certainly sees where he is coming from. But from another point of view, cinema is defined by the creation – the craft, the making. And a platform like Netflix takes cinema to large numbers, many of whom have opted, consciously, to watch films at home – not simply because they can, but also because not every art-house film plays at a nearby theatre.

Regardless of which side of the divide you fall on, one fallout is that the long-awaited Orson Welles film, The Other Side of the Wind, will not be premiered at the world’s biggest, most prestigious film festival. Welles shot the film in instalments, between 1970 and 1976 – but he could not complete it before he died, in 1985. Over the years, the film’s stature as The Great Unfinished Movie has only grown – along with other what-might-have-beens like Welles’s own Don Quixote production, Alfred Hitchcock’s Kaleidoscope (about a necrophiliac serial killer in New York; about sixty minutes of silent footage is all that exists), Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon and Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis (he called it “a little like an Ayn Rand novel.”).

Netflix acquired the rights to The Other Side of the Wind and funded its completion (if that isn’t cinephilia, what is?), with Peter Bogdanovich serving as executive producer. Bogdanovich was not only a star director in his 1970s heydays (his well-regarded hits include The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon), he was also a Welles acolyte – and his book of conversations with the great filmmaker, This is Orson Welles, rivals the Hitchcock-Truffaut book in its insights into the filmmaking process. This is what Welles said about the gestation of The Other Side of the Wind: “I was sleepless, and then I suddenly thought, ‘I’ve got a story – I’ve worked on it for years – about an old director… My character, Jake Hannaford, is one of the machos, hairy-chests.”

Continued at the link above.

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