By Didier Allouch, host of Rendez-vous d'Amérique

The Lumière festival is one with tons of celebrity participation, but without competition or pressure, where there’s nothing at stake but the pleasure of watching movies. But this year things are changing and that's not quite true anymore….

Chargement du lecteur...


My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, I’m just back from France, from the wonderful city of Lyon where the food is so good. I was there to participate in a film festival: the Lumiere festival.

The Lumière festival is probably the nicest event of the cinema year. Created 14 years ago by the leaders of the Lumière Institute, Thierry Frémaux who is also the director-general of Cannes, and the late Bertrand Tavernier, who was so attached to his city of Lyon, the festival celebrates the classics of world cinema and the public is more than welcome. It's a festival with tons of celebrities participating but without competition or pressure, where there’s nothing at stake but the pleasure of watching movies. Then again, that's not quite true anymore….

In recent years, the festival has opened up to new films, show alongside its selection of classic movies. Before, it was often French films that came out around the dates of the event, or American films that directors or friends of the Institute sent as a gift to festivalgoers.

But this year, things are changing. A studio saw the festival as an opportunity to promote their films... in the race for the Oscars.

Netflix, since this is the studio we’re talking about, came to Lyon, with no less than 4 new films in preview at the festival. First, there is Paolo Sorrentino's Hand Of God, the film that Italy is expected to enter into the competition for best foreign film, The Lost Daughter by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Passing, directed by Rebecca Hall, and The Power Of The Dog, Jane Campion's new film. To promote these films, it is rumored that Netflix sent a team of more than 60 people to Lyon, including the boss Ted Sarandos, who came directly from Hollywood.

What for? There's only one answer: the Oscars.

All these films have toured the fall festivals, Telluride, Venice, and Toronto, all mandatory stops on the road to Hollywood Boulevard. Now, Lyon and its Lumière festival seem to have been added to the list.

Since the Academy opened its doors more widely, Oscar voters are everywhere, including in France. There are about 250 Oscar voters who live in France, and a large majority of these artists come to Lumière festival.

And there are the precedents...

The Shape Of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Nomadland by Chloé Zhao went through Lyon before going on to win the Oscars.

Also, by going to Lyon, Netflix puts its 4 films in a cinema context. What Netflix wants to put in the minds of voters is that these movies are made as if they were going to be seen in theaters. But instead, they will be seen on your TV at best, or on your cell phone at worst. The films will be seen on small screens even if they are considered for very large screens, especially Jane Campion’s one. It is a paradoxical situation that Netflix wants people to forget by going to a prestigious festival like Lyon: they are not cinema killers, they’re cinema lovers.

And they are, after all. If you want to see a François Truffaut movie or a classic of French cinema, there's a big chance it’s on Netflix (and on TV5MONDE Cinema On Demand, but that’s another matter).

We live in such a paradoxical world, on so many levels.


To learn more about French filmmakers in America, tune in to Rendez-vous d’Amérique on TV5MONDE USA. Click here for more information.

Exploring cultural diversity through film, art, and so much more, Rendez-vous d'Amérique invites you on a journey to discover Francophone culture in America. Your host on this cultural experience is Didier Allouch - reporter, cinephile, and a familiar face on the red carpet. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to TV5MONDE USA and never miss an episode!