Sean Baker Shades Streamers While Calling on Hollywood to ‘Keep Cinema Alive’ in Rousing Cannes Speech | Video

The acclaimed indie filmmaker won the 77th annual festival’s coveted Palme d’Or on Saturday for “Anora”

Sean Baker receives the 'Palme D'Or' Award for "Anora" during the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival
Sean Baker receives the 'Palme D'Or' Award for "Anora" during the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival (Credit: Victor Boyko/Getty Images)

Sean Baker achieved the “singular goal” he’s been working toward his entire filmmaking career on Saturday when he won the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival’s coveted Palme d’Or for his sex worker drama “Anora.”

Speaking breathlessly to the ceremony’s black-tied international audience after thanking the festival jury — as led by writer-director Greta Gerwig — and his film’s various collaborators, stars and producers, the acclaimed indie filmmaker turned his attention to his mounting concern over the future of cinema. Specifically, he addressed the moviegoing experience.

“This literally has been my singular goal as a filmmaker for the past 30 years, so I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. But I do know that I will continue to fight for cinema because right now as filmmakers, we have to fight to keep cinema alive,” Baker said. He then turned his attention to the matter at hand: “This means making feature films intended for theatrical exhibition.”

“The world has to be reminded that watching a film at home while scrolling through your phone, while checking emails and half paying attention, is just not the way — although some tech companies would like us to think so,” Baker continued, winking to the rise of streaming services like Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, Disney+ and Hulu. He argued for the community built around theatrical moviegoing.

“Watching a film with others in a movie theater is one of the great communal experiences. We share laughter, sorrow, anger, fear and hopefully have a catharsis with our friends and strangers — and that’s sacred,” he said before he concluded: “So I see the future of cinema as where is started: in a movie theater.”

“Anora” will be released later this year in the U.S. by Neon, making it the fifth year in a row that the indie distribution company has bagged the winner of Cannes’ biggest prize. Global distribution rights were acquired in October 2023 by FilmNation Entertainment.

The film stars “Scream” and “Better Things” standout Mikey Madison in the role of Anora, an exotic dancer in New York City who strikes up an unlikely romance and lightning-fast elopement with the son of a Russian oligarch, played by Mark Eidelstein.

Watch a clip from Baker’s speech in the video from X embedded above.

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