Cannes jury head Inarritu hails cinema experience in Netflix age

The Mexican maker of "Birdman" will pick the winner of the top Palme D'Or prize on May 25.

Cannes jury president Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu lauded the "communal experience" of watching movies in cinemas as the French film festival, locked in a row with streaming services such as Netflix, got underway on Tuesday.

 Cannes jury head Inarritu hails cinema experience in Netflix age

72nd Cannes Film Festival - Cannes, France, May 14, 2019. Jury President of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu poses. Image: Reuters.

The Mexican maker of "Birdman" heads up a panel that includes U.S. actress Elle Fanning and "The Favourite" director Yorgos Lanthimos, and will pick the winner of the top Palme D'Or prize on May 25.

At a time when streaming companies are becoming prolific production houses, turning out serious award contenders although no Netflix films were selected to compete at Cannes, Inarritu defended movie theatres.

"I'm a true believer that to watch is not to see a film ... Cinema was born to be experienced, in a communal experience," Inarritu told a news conference, hours ahead of the first night of the festival on the French Riviera, set to open with the zombie-fest "The Dead Don't Die".

Inarritu said he did not have anything against "watching something on a phone", and that the likes of Netflix had helped bring local films to markets such as Mexico.

The U.S. firm backed "Roma", a family drama that earned Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron an Oscar for best director.

"It's great that they exist on TV, but why not give people the choice to experience them in the cinema," Inarritu said.

The spat between Cannes and Netflix over rules dictating that films in the competition cannot be streamed for the following three years is expected to dominate discussions at the festival.

Inarritu said the jury would be looking out for the films that struck them the most "emotionally, intellectually" and that disturbed or provoked them.

Big names such as Quentin Tarantino will up be against newcomers, including some presenting their first ever movie, as young French filmmaker Ladj Ly with "Les Miserables".

Excluding Inarritu, the Cannes jury is made up of four men and four women as organisers make a push to shine greater light on female cinema talents.

"(I'm) also looking forward to the time when we come and we don't have to say 'the women directors' and 'the women'," U.S. filmmaker and jury member Kelly Reichardt said.

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