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Werner Herzog reluctantly supports film piracy and illegal streaming


German filmmaker Werner Herzog has reluctantly accepted that film fans need to stream illegal pirated films to access his art.

Herzog, speaking during a masterclass at Switzerland’s documentary-focused Visions du Réel International Film Festival in Nyon, was answering a comment made by Ukrainian producer Illia Gladshtein.

Gladshtein, of Phalanstery Films, told Herzog that he could only access some of his films through illegal Torrent sites. In response, Herzog said: “Piracy has been the most successful form of distribution worldwide,” and accepted that sometimes it is a necessity.

He added: “If you don’t get [films] through Netflix or state-sponsored television in your country, then you go and access it as a pirate.

“I don’t like it because I would like to earn some money with my films,” he admitted. “But if someone like you steals my films through the internet or whatever, fine, you have my blessing.”

At a time when streaming services like Netflix come under occasional criticism, Herzog offered a different take and praised the system: “Now you can find them on the internet, on Amazon, as Blu-Rays or DVDs, or you can stream them,” he said before adding: “I am very happy about this because all of a sudden most of the requests and observations I receive now come from 15-year-olds who bombard me (with) questions of ‘why can’t we see this or that film?’”

The 76-year-old filmmaker, a key figure of the New German Cinema, was once described as “the most important film director alive” by François Truffaut and has over 60 film credits to his name.