Published: Sun, May 21, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

With drama aplenty, Netflix and 'Okja' debut in Cannes

With drama aplenty, Netflix and 'Okja' debut in Cannes

"Okja", about a young country girl who tries to save a beast created by an unscrupulous multinational company, had been touted as a possible victor of the Palme d'Or.

Critics were waiting at the Debussy Theatre for the start of director Michel Hazanavicius' Redoubtable, which is in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize, when the security scare took place.

Boos, claps, and whistles erupted from the audience when the Netflix logo rolled onto the screen minutes after the film's press screening began at Lumiere Theater in Cannes, France, at 8:30 a.m.

On Sunday a second Netflix film, Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories, will be screened.

"Ha, this is really not made for the cinema", one spectator shouted.

The row took an unexpected turn on Wednesday, when jury president Pedro Almodovar said he would not give the two Netflix movies a chance to compete for the Palme. "I'm looking forward to a good jury scandal". (They) watch films they otherwise wouldn't have seen.

Still, it's Netflix who have the last laugh as - despite a rocky start - the film wowed its audience with many taking to Twitter to sing its praises. As the lights went down, the Netflix title card before the film provoked the expected loud jeers but also competitive applause from a segment of the audience clearly prepared for countermeasures.

The battle - which has divided film-makers - has prompted French directors and producers to appeal to their government to change streaming rules. The movie theatre will forever be the first choice for films. "It is not fair to filmmakers".

At its core, Okja is about a little girl who goes on an incredible journey to reunite with the titular super-pig pet, but Bong Joon-ho has dressed up that simple story in flashy clothes and big ideas, embroidering his film with chase sequences and over-the-top performances.

"Okja" star Tilda Swinton, who found herself in the eye of the Cannes storm, said it was clear that "an enormous and really interesting conversation was beginning. the truth is there is room for everybody".

"But it also looks at how our lives are inevitably shaped under the capitalist system, whether you are a human or an animal", he added.

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