A lot of people will be trashing Netflix if they fail to cut some kind of arrangement with the Cannes Film Festival and wind up yanking five films from the festival slate, including Orson Welles‘ The Other Side of the Wind, Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma and Paul Greengrass‘s Norway.
The near-final answer will come on Thursday, 4.12, when the festival announces the 2018 slate. Yes, there are always add-ons but who knows?
One guy who is speaking well of Netflix is author, screenwriter, former Variety critic and Other Side of the Wind costar Joseph McBride. The SF State University film professor plays a film critic, Charles Pister, in the Welles film, and not for some walk-on cameo. McBride went before the cameras for a six-year period during production on The Other Side of the Wind, from the early to mid ’70s, and had actual lines. Anyway, he recently posted the following on Facebook:
“There’s been a big flap over how villainous Netflix supposedly is threatening to withdraw its films from Cannes, including Orson Welles’s nearly completed The Other Side of the Wind and Morgan Neville’s companion documentary, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (both of which I am in).
“Netflix stepped up to the plate after Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Clint Eastwood, Oliver Stone, Roger Corman and everyone else in Hollywood passed up the opportunity to finish The Other Side of the Wind. For that alone Netflix [deserves] the eternal gratitude of film history. They are heroes in this saga. As I wrote, it was my idea to bypass theatrical after two decades of futility, so people can blame me for that, but if not for Netfix the film would still be in cans in the Paris lab. Kudos to the producers for making this finally happen and to Netflix for supporting it so generously.
HE response to McBride: Netflix definitely stepped up and saved this film, but at the end of the day we all know that a Netflix streaming berth, though welcome, has a certain arid component. I’m sure you agree that a big whoop-dee-doo Cannes Film Festival debut of The Other Side of the Wind will provide a much-needed moment of emotional satisfaction — completion, closure — for all the players (including Peter Bogdanovich) who’ve been involved for so many decades.
You know that the ghost of Orson Welles will definitely be watching and perhaps even raising a glass a la Celeste Holm at the end of A Letter To Three Wives.
If and when the film is shown under the auspices of the non-competitive Cannes Classics section, there needs to be a grand moment at some Cannes eatery following the screening in which someone (preferably Bogdanovich) gets up and toasts the eternal infamy of the grasping and mendacious Oja Kodar. Justice demands it.
Remember the following: (1) “In Josh Karp‘s ‘Orson Welles’s Last Movie‘, numerous individuals (investors, attorneys, executives and others) who have been involved with the project during the last 15 years all told a variation on the same tale in which Oja derailed attempts to complete the film by (a) reneging on agreements, (b) pitting investors against each other, (c) secretly shopping for better deals and (d) shifting her allegiances at critical junctures“; (2) “Houston, We Gave A Problem, and Her Name is Oja Kodar“; (3) a 2015 report about Kodar’s obstructions by welles.net’s Ray Kelly; (4) “Film historian Joseph McBride…has publicly accused Kodar of continually obstructing the current deal by making incessant demands of the producers“, and (5) “Bogdanovich said at a gathering of Welles experts in Southern California last fall that there could be ‘psychological’ issues at play, such as unwillingness by Kodar to let go of the film.”