Netflix weathers Cannes glitch
Director laughs off snafu: ‘You people can watch the opening sequence twice’
CANNES A technical mishap briefly halted the first Netflix film (and potentially one of the last) to première in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
When the studio logo appeared on the screen of the massive Lumière theatre Friday, it drew widespread boos from the crowd. But as the opening scene of Okja, from South Korean director Bong Joon Ho, began to play, audience members noticed the aspect ratio was wrong, cutting off parts of the images.
In fact, it was as if the gods of French cinema had risen up to smite the streaming service upstart. But after a delay of about 10 minutes, the movie started again. The festival issued a statement taking blame and apologizing.
At the news conference for the film, the director laughed off the snafu. “You people can watch the opening sequence twice,” he said, noting there’s a lot of information and story in those few minutes.
Netflix caused a furor for refusing to release Okja or its other completion title, Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories, in cinemas.
Jury president Pedro Almodóvar went so far as to say he doesn’t see either film winning a prize this year, and Cannes has a new rule for 2018 that all competition titles must screen in French cinemas.
“I’m just really happy he’ll see it tonight,” Bong said of Almodóvar’s comments. “The mere fact that he talks about this film, in glowing or negative terms, is fine with me.”
Tilda Swinton, who stars in Okja and has twice sat on juries at Cannes, was a model of diplomacy on the subject. “It’s really important that the president feels free to make whatever statements he or she makes,” she said. “That’s part of the deal. But the truth is we didn’t actually come here for prizes.
“We came here to show this film to the Cannes Film Festival and to people who have gathered here from all over the world.”
Okja, from the director of Snowpiercer and The Host, tells the story of a 14-year-old girl named Mija (An Seo Hyun) whose best friend, a giant mutant pig, is captured by a U.S. conglomerate, leading her on a chase through Seoul and eventually to New York. The film also stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano.
Its ecological message and child/ creature friendship has drawn comparisons to the works of Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli — with, it must be said, rather more violence and adult language.
“I’ve loved (Miyazaki) ever since I was small,” Bong said. “If you want to talk about nature and life, you cannot be but in the shadow of this great master.”
Swinton added: “There’s something about the environment of a Miyazaki film that is beyond emotion, and it’s beyond cinema. It’s a place you can go to.
“The nature that we’re worshipping is actually the best of human nature also.”
As an animal lover known for her many dogs, Swinton noted our animal companions are often models of good behaviour.
“How to live, loyalty, patience, presence, the love of a good walk, catching a ball,” she said. “That feeling of dedication and simplicity in living life that animals can teach us as humans.”
Okja will be released on Netflix in Canada on June 28.
Jake Gyllenhaal, left, Bong Joon Ho and Tilda Swinton are promoting their movie, Okja, at the Cannes FIlm Festival.