Will Smith Brings Star Power to Cannes and Defends Netflix’s Place at the Festival

Bonjour, Monsieur Smith.

Will Smith injected some star power to the opening night of the 70th Cannes Film Festival, greeting fans gathered in the Côte d’Azur on Wednesday.

Looking dashing in black tux, Smith joked about his hometown to a group of festival goers, saying, “West Philadelphia is a long way from Cannes.”

Smith is a member of this year’s festival jury, which also includes Jessica Chastain, Paolo Sorrentino and Park Chan-wook.

Also supplying the star power on Wednesday was Marion Cotillard, who stars alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg in French director Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts, which premiere on opening night.

Other stars with splashy Cannes films this year include Kristen Stewart — who’s making her directorial debut with the short film Come Swim — Nicole KidmanElle FanningKirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton in Netflix’s Okja.

Despite all the great competition, there’s already drama brewing in the French Riviera. On Wednesday, director Pedro Almodóvar, who’s presiding over this year’s competition jury, made a controversial statement regarding the inclusion of Netflix films in the festival.

“I personally cannot conceive of not only the Palme d’Or, but any other prize, being given to a film and then being unable to see this film on a large screen,” he said, according to ABC News.

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“The size of the screen should not be smaller than the chair you’re sitting in. It should not be part of your everyday setting,” he added to applause from his audience. “You must be small and humble in front of the image that’s here.”

This year, Cannes selected two Netflix releases — Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories — for its Palme d’Or competition.

Smith spoke out in support of Netflix. “In my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit,” he said, according to ABC News. “ get to see films they absolutely wouldn’t have seen. Netflix brings a great connectivity. There are movies that are not on a screen within 8,000 miles of them. They get to find those artists.”

The 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival runs May 17 – 28.

from PEOPLE.com http://people.com/movies/will-smith-brings-star-power-to-cannes-and-defends-netflixs-place-at-the-festival/

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