Guillermo del Toro has thoughts on the future of cinema, and they aren’t entirely positive.

Guillermo del Toro is renowned for making beautiful and captivating films. However, listening to the director speak about cinema can often be an equally enriching experience, so when the Mexican filmmaker spoke as part of a panel this week at Cannes about the future of cinema during the age of streaming, lots of people were eager to hear what he had to say.

Whilst speaking about a number of points clearly dear to him, del Toro advocated for audiences to seek films out for themselves rather than allowing algorithms to determine their viewing choices. He also spoke about the need for filmmakers to avoid the sort of ‘formula filmmaking’ that results in identikit blockbusters arriving with regular frequency.

However, perhaps most powerful was del Toro’s assertion that we have a responsibility to future generations to safeguard the future of cinema, as the current model he argues, is “unsustainable”.

Directly addressing the future of the art form, del Toro said “there are many answers to what the future is. The one I know is not what we have right now. It is not sustainable. In so many ways, what we have belongs to an older structure. That’s how profound the change is. We are finding that it is more than the delivery system that is changing. It’s the relationship to the audience that is shifting. Do we hold it, or do we seek and be adventurous?”

When speaking about the threat posed by streaming services, the the filmmaker elaborated, stating: “We are in the present losing more movies from the past faster than ever before. It seems like we aren’t, but the mere disappearance of physical media is already having corporations curating what we watch, faster for us. The future doesn’t belong to us, so our duty is not to ourselves, but to the future, for the people who come after.”

The Nightmare Alley director would go on to question the nature (and classification) of ‘films’ put out by streaming services, not merely because they don’t play on a cinema screen, but also because of their ambition, saying “are we arguing about the size of the screen or the size of the ideas?” This would then lead on to del Toro railing against the churning out of such ‘content’, a word he clearly doesn’t admire (and one we’ve written about before too), stating “Whatever they describe, they don’t describe art. They don’t describe cinema, because they talk about impermanence, something we’ve just got to flush through. It has to keep moving. In my mind, a beautiful work of audiovisual storytelling should hold its place next to a novel, a painting. We don’t talk about paintings. We only talk about paintings when we’re in front of it. A painting is always new.”

There’s more to read from del Toro, and you can find it over at Indiewire.

It’s also worth pointing out that he acknowledged that his next film, Pinocchio is a Netflix movie and he was effusive in his praise for the streamer’s backing.

What are your thoughts, especially about the ‘sustainability’ of cinema? The current over reliance on blockbusters in cinemas has been a key talking point of late in the wake of cinema chains complaining about the lack of new films, but let us know your take in the comments below.

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