"Cinematic art in all its forms": Netflix and the film festival network
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This thesis examines the complex and dynamic relationship between the streaming platform Netflix and the world’s most renowned and prestigious film festivals. Film festivals like Cannes and Sundance have often positioned themselves as a counterpoint to the dominance of the Hollywood film and television industry and a showcase for groundbreaking, independent art cinema (and, increasingly, prestige television); Netflix has similarly presented itself as a revolutionary alternative to legacy film and television creators and distributors by providing instant, unprecedented access to media content to millions of subscribers worldwide. Using an industry studies framework, I argue that Netflix’s presence within the film festival network exposes the industrial factors that complicate both idealistic discourses. Beneath the existential controversies that have enveloped Netflix at these festivals are questions of labor, “independence,” and the tension between international showcases like Cannes and the local industries that subsidize them. Netflix and many of the top festivals like Sundance, Venice or Cannes purport to be an alternative to the more mainstream entertainment industry, but they are not wholly discrete from the industrial practices and strategies that they claim to subvert.
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