Throughout the course of his decorated and complicated career, Orson Welles was no stranger to studio strife, clashing with producers during the making of films such as Touch of Evil,Don Quixote, and Chimes of Midnight.When Netflix said Wednesday that it would pull five of the films it had planned to screen at next months Cannes Film Festival, it seemed that the pattern had even dogged Welles unfinished, posthumous opus, The Other Side of the Wind. The movies premiere was the most emotional casualty of the ongoing feud between the streaming service and festival organizers, which has tangled up filmmakers and performers.
Among those caught in the crossfire has been Welless daughter Beatrice, who made a personal appeal to Netflixs chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, asking the executive to reconsider his plan to pull her fathers final film from the lineup.
“I was very upset and troubled to read in the trade papers about the conflict with the Cannes Film Festival,” Beatrice said in an e-mail sent to Sarandos on Sunday, portions of which were made available to Vanity Fair. “I have to speak out for my father.”
Netflix has financed the post-production on The Other Side of the Wind, and had planned to premiere the movie at Cannes ahead of its release on the streaming platform in the fall. But the studio decided to withdraw from Cannes after the festival announced new rules that disqualify the streaming services movies from appearing in competition there. The movie, which Welles shot in the 1970s, tells the story of a director played by John Huston, who returns to Hollywood after years in Europe, with what he hopes will be a comeback film
In the e-mail, Beatrice listed crippling professional experiences her father had with studios and producers during his career.
“I saw how the big production companies destroyed his life, his work, and in so doing a little bit of the man I loved so much,” Beatrice wrote. “I would so hate to see Netflix be yet another one of these companies.”
In her appeal, Beatrice also enumerated the ways in which Cannes had supported her fathers career, including awarding him the precursor to the Palme dOr in 1952 for his adaptation of Othello and awarding him best actor in 1959 for his performance in Compulsion.
“Please reconsider and let my fathers work be the movie that bridges the gap between Netflix and Cannes,” Beatrice said.
The Cannes lineup is scheduled to be announced on Thursday in France. In addition to Welless movie, Netflix also withdrew Alfonso CuarónsRoma,Paul GreengrasssNorway,Jeremy SaulniersHold the Dark, and Morgan Nevilles documentary, Theyll Love Me When Im Dead, about Welles.
Sarandos did respond to Beatrice Welless e-mail, but ultimately followed through on his plan to withdraw from the festival, according to a source familiar with the exchange.
In an interview with Variety published Wednesday, Sarandos defended the decision. “We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” he said. “Theres a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. Theyve set the tone. I dont think it would be good for us to be there.” (Vanity Fair has reached out to Netflix for comment.)
Beatrice also sent an e-mail to Cannes Director Thierry Frémaux, who replied, calling The Other Side of the Wind “an extraordinary film. Much more than a historical film. A message from Orson Welles to the world of cinema today.”
One of the films producers, Filip Jan Rymsza, also issued a statement on the movies crowdfunding page. “Whats sad and most difficult to come to terms with is that everyone loses in this decision—Cannes, Netflix, film lovers, and all of us who worked so hard on this historic endeavor,” Rymsza wrote. “No other festival premiere will rival what Cannes intended for the films. Their placement and reception will live only in our collective imagination. Granted, Im conflicted in my emotions. There would be no The Other Side of the Wind without Netflix, but that doesnt lessen my disappointment and heartbreak.”
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Rebecca KeeganRebecca Keegan is a Hollywood Correspondent for Vanity Fair.