Germany’s Biggest Theater Group Doesn’t Want Netflix at Berlin Film Festival, Italian Trades Upset Over ‘Roma’ Venice Win

After Netflix debates at Cannes and Venice, the eyes of the German film world are already looking towards next year's Berlin Film Festival.
Alfonso Curaon directs Talitza Aparicio in "Roma"
Alfonso Curaon directs Talitza Aparicio in "Roma"

HDF Kino, the biggest cinema association in Germany, has spoken out against Netflix and its day-and-date release policy, in which the company’s original films open in select theaters on the same day they become available to stream for subscribers online. The group exclusively told Deadline that it agrees with the Italian theater owners who criticized Netflix’s presence at the Venice Film Festival.

“It should be clear that we wouldn’t be pleased if Berlin were to be misused through day and date cinema,” HDF Kino CEO Thomas Negele told Deadline. “We represent the same position as the Italian associations.”

Two of Italy’s cinema exhibitor organizations, ANEC (National Association of Cinema Exhibitors) and ANEM (National Association of Multiplex Exhibitors), issued a joint statement in July speaking out against Netflix’s day-and-date releases. The groups claimed this release strategy benefits “exclusively the short-term interests of only one party, to the detriment of other actors,” and they declared they will “oppose this proposal [day-and-date releasing of big movies] by any means necessary if the issue of shortening windows is disregarded without the approval of Italian Cinema.”

Germany’s theater association is now following in the footsteps of ANEC and ANEM, telling Deadline that Netflix movies are not welcome at the Berlin Film Festival early next year. Berlin has been in line with Cannes on the Netflix debate, not allowing streaming movies to debut in its official main competition. Cannes and Netflix famously feuded in May after Netflix pulled out of the entire festival following a ban on day-and-date releases in the main competition.

HDF Kino allying with Italy’s cinema owners follows Netflix’s major victory at the Venice Film Festival, where Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” took home the Golden Lion. The Netflix-backed “Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, also won the Venice prize for best screenplay.

Italian trade organizations such as NAC (National Association of Film Authors), which represents directors and screenwriters, FICE (Italian Federation of Cinema of Essai), and ACEC (Catholic Cinema Exhibitors Association) slammed the Venice jury for awarding Netflix the top honor. The group said the decision turned the publicly-backed event into a “marketing vehicle” for the Netflix.

“The Golden Lion, a symbol of the International Film Festival, which has always been financed with public resources is a patrimony of Italian spectators,” Italy’s trade bodies said in a statement released by Deadline. “The film that bears its name should be within everyone’s reach, in cinemas, and not exclusively for the subscribers of the American platform.”

The Berlin Film Festival takes place each February. Only one Netflix movie has ever screened at the international event, Liz Garbus’s 2015 documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” The festival welcomed Amazon’s “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot” earlier this year since the company commits to having theatrical only releases.

IndieWire has reached out to Netflix for further comment.

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