Will Smith, Pedro Almodovar open testy Cannes Film Festival

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"Welcome to the 70th Cannes festival".

Both Almodovar and Smith weighed in on the issue that has dominated conversations so far at Cannes - the inclusion in the competition of Netflix films that will be streamed to subscribers and not shown in movie theaters in France.

The jury, which is also made up of Will Smith, Jessica Chastain and Paolo Sorrentino, will pick the Palme d'Or victor out of the 19 films in competition next weekend.

Speaking about his views on the entertainment business in a statement, which has been obtained by Variety, the 67-year-old filmmaker said: "I personally do not conceive, not only the Palme d'Or any other prize being given to a film and not being able to see this film on a big screen". Smith offered his alternative take: "I have a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old and a 24-year-old at home".

At first glance, the actor might've seemed an odd choice to serve under president Pedro Almodovar for the 70th annual event, considering that none of the 40 films he's made in his career have screened at Cannes, the most prestigious, and perhaps most discerning, film festival in the world. "You must feel small and humble in front of the image that's here".

For the first time, two Netflix films are competing for the Palme d'Or this year. "There's very little cross between going to the cinema and watching what they watch on Netflix".

New platforms for film distribution must play by existing rules, he said, which in France means Netflix would be banned from streaming its films for three years after a theatrical release.

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"In my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit".

"In my home, Netflix has had absolutely no effect on what they (his children) go to the movie theater to watch", he said.

Actor Smith, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of boxer Muhammad Ali, launched a spirited defence of Netflix, saying it "broadens my children's cinematic global comprehension".

Italian actress Monica Bellucci will host the gala opening ceremony Wednesday night, with French drama Ismael's Ghosts, starring Marion Cotillard, as the opening film.

The streaming giant's two films are among 19 vying for the Palme d'Or, which also include Happy End, a film set against the backdrop of Europe's migrant crisis by Michael Haneke, and Sofia Coppola's American Civil War thriller The Beguiled starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.

She also stars in the second series of Top Of The Lake, which will be screened in full at the festival.

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