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.

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