Netflix clashed with the Cannes Film Festival this year when Cannes banned any-and-all films that did not receive a theatrical release. This obviously puts a damper on original Netflix films, which the company releases exclusively on the video-streaming platform. The rule change caused Netflix to pull-out of the event this year, but that didn’t stop Netflix from buying two award-winning films for distribution.
This week Netflix picked-up the winners “Happy As Lazzaro” and “Girl,” and both films are now set for North America and Latin America releases. “Happy as Lazzaro” premiered in competition and was awarded Best Screenplay for Alice Rohrwacher, while the Camera d’Or for best first film was awarded to Lukas Dhont for “Girl”. “Girl” premiered in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival where it was awarded Best Actor for Victor Polster.
As for “Happy as Lazzaro,” the film is a meeting between Lazzaro, a young peasant so good that he is often mistaken for simple-minded, and Tancredi, a young nobleman cursed by his imagination. Life in their isolated pastoral village Inviolata is dominated by the terrible Marchesa Alfonsina de Luna, the queen of cigarettes. A loyal bond is sealed when Tancredi asks Lazzaro to help him orchestrate his own kidnapping. This strange and improbable alliance is a revelation for Lazzaro. Netflix describes the film adding, “A friendship so precious that it will travel in time and transport Lazzaro in search of Tancredi. His first time in the big city, Lazzaro is like a fragment of the past lost in the modern world”. The film was written and directed by Alice Rohrwacher, and the film includes Adriano Tardiolo, Luca Chikovani, Alba Rohrwacher, Agnese Graziani, Tommaso Ragno, Sergi Lopez, Natalino Balasso, Gala Othero Winter, David Bennent, and Nicoletta Braschi.
Lukas Dhont’s Un Certain Regard entry “Girl” was awarded this year’s Queer Palm award. The special award launched in 2010 and selects its winner from all LGBTQ-themed films across the official selection of the Cannes film festival, Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight, Critics’ Week and the unofficial ACID section. In the film, determined 15-year-old Lara is committed to becoming a professional ballerina. With the support of her father, she throws herself into this quest for the absolute at a new school. Lara’s adolescent frustrations and impatience are heightened as she realizes her body does not bend so easily to the strict discipline because she was born a boy. The film was directed by Lukas Dhont, and stars Victor Polster, Arieh Worthalter, Oliver Bodart, Tijmen Govaerts, Katelijne Damen, Valentijn Dhaenens, Magali Elali, and Alice de Broqueville.