Italian distributor Lucky Red has responded to anger from local exhibitors that its Venice-bound film On My Skin (Sulla Mia Pelle) will screen on Netflix soon after its festival debut.

In a statement sent to me today, the distributor has said it is “proud” the drama will be shown in Venice and that the film’s near-day-and-date global release is an “extraordinary event” and a “big opportunity” for audiences.

The Italian-language film about police brutality is due to open Venice’s Horizons strand and get a global release via Netflix soon after on September 12. It is also due to have a theatrical component in Italy.

However, earlier this week, trade bodies repping local cinemas issued a strongly worded statement criticizing day-and-date releasing for its impact on traditional models. The statement also took a pop at Venice chief Alberto Barbera for condoning a shortening of the theatrical window.

“Every exhibitor will be free to choose to play or not [play] the film in their theatre,” said Lucky Red CEO Andrea Occhipinti today.

“We are investigating with all of them what’s the best release plan and consequently we will make a decision. The last thing we want is to penalize the relationship between audience and cinema.

“We are not ‘escaping into the future’,” added Occhipinti, whose Lucky Red is an Italian distribution mainstay with recent releases including Hereditary and I, Tonya. “We believe in cinema, in its central role and in its future. During our 30 years in business, we have been always coherent and we [have] proved it with our direct and indirect investments.” You can read the full statement below.

The Lido this year will debut a record six Netflix films: 22 JulyRomaThe Ballad of Buster Scruggs (all in Competition); On My Skin (Horizons); and The Other Side Of The Wind and They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Out Of Competition). Release details have yet to be confirmed for most of these, but Roma, for one, is due to have a U.S. theatrical element.

Last week, Venice chief Barbera told us Venice would “benefit from all the polemic between Cannes and Netflix.” In reference to France’s strict media chronology laws, he added, “We succeeded in getting a couple of films that could have been in Cannes. It’s a particular situation in France, the streaming window doesn’t make any sense in my point of view.”

Those comments and Netflix’s strong presence at Venice have clearly rubbed local exhibitors the wrong way. While Venice has been basking in the glow of admiration over its exciting lineup it is now experiencing some of the same blowback Cannes has endured in the last two years. For its part, Netflix will want the conversation to move away from its model and onto its movies.

On My Skin charts the true story of a young man arrested for a minor crime who died while in police custody. The incident led to one of Italy’s most controversial court cases in recent years. Alessandro Borghi (Suburra) and Jasmine Trinca (The Gunman) star.

Here’s Lucky Red’s full statement:

Sulla Mia Pelle, directed by Alessio Cremonini, starring Alessandro Borghi and Jasmine Trinca, produced by Cinemaundici and Lucky Red, will open the Orizzonti section of the 75th Venice Film Festival.

From September 12th Sulla Mia Pelle will be available on Netflix in more than 190 countries, in addition to Italy.

It’s an extraordinary event that the story of Stefano Cucchi can be told all over the world. For its high-quality production and the important story that it tells, it’s really important that this film can reach such a big audience.

We are really proud that Sulla Mia Pelle was selected by Alberto Barbera to open the Orizzonti section and that Netflix acquired it. This is the proof we produced a great film.

According to us, proposing exhibitors to play the film in their cinema simultaneously to the streaming release (as it happens for many alternative contents that are distributed on other services too) is a big opportunity.

This is not an imposition, it’s a choice. It’s an opportunity for the audience: the possibility to watch the film on the big screen, too.

We are not ‘escaping into the future’. We believe in cinema, in its central role and in its future. During our 30 years in business, we have been always coherent and we proved it with our direct and indirect investments.

In terms of alternative contents, the simultaneous release in cinema and streaming on Netflix has already happened: it’s not new for our film dedicated to Cucchi.

Moreover the main cast, first of all Alessandro Borghi, will be happy to do Q&As in  Italian theatres, in order to open a debate on such an important topic.

Every exhibitor will be free to choose to play or not the film in their theatre. We are investigating with all of them what’s the best release plan and consequently we will make a decision. The last thing we want is to penalize the relationship between audience and cinema. Every day, from the beginning, we have always worked in this direction.

Andrea Occhipinti