Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, whose Roma missed out on Best Picture Oscar to Green Book, said people may have been sceptical initially about Netflix’s involvement in the film but the conversation has changed because it connected with people the way “usually only mainstream films do”.
Roma was the clear front-runner in the race and bagged three Oscars — Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director nods — but stopped short of claiming the top prize, which went to Peter Farrelly’s racial drama Green Book.
The choice by the Academy members drew sharp reactions both from the film fraternity and in the media, with critics pointing out at Hollywood’s hostility towards Netflix, which is being seen as a market disrupter.
When asked to comment about the perception that Netflix’s involvement may have cost the film its Best Picture Oscar by Variety, Cuarón had a carefully-worded answer.
“In the beginning, when I started this process, I felt that. I had friends and other filmmakers say, ‘What are you doing?’ It was almost as if I was betraying something. But I think the conversation has changed. I think most people are recognising that this film is reaching audiences worldwide in a way that usually only mainstream films do,” the 57-year-old director replied.
Cuarón said the debate around watching films on streaming services and in theatres is “super important” to him but he also believes that theatrical experience is largely focused on tentpole cinema.
“For me the conversation about theatrical is super important. I’m a filmmaker. I believe in the theatrical experience. But there has to be diversity. The multiplex theatrical experience is a very gentrified experience. You have one kind of product with few variations. It’s hard to see art-house films. It’s hard to see foreign films. Most theatres play big Hollywood movies,” he added.
The Oscar winner also said that the distribution model also needs to be tweaked keeping in mind the type of film that is being presented to the audiences.
“You cannot impose the release strategy of a tentpole film on a smaller film. You may need fewer theatres and longer runs or models in which the so-called window is shorter. We’re thinking in one single paradigm. It’s a moment to start opening up paradigms. Right now it’s a confrontation between economic models. It’s not like one model benefits cinema, and the other does not,” he added.