Okja

Bong Joon Ho Defends Netflix in Cannes: “They Gave Me Total Freedom”

The 'Okja' director was diplomatic in addressing the various controversies surrounding the streaming giant, while Tilda Swinton said
Bong Joon Ho

Following a rocky rollout but mostly positive reception to his film Okja during its first press screening in Cannes, South Korean filmmaking phenomenon Bong Joon Ho shrugged off the controversy that has swirled around the movie since the 70th edition of the iconic French film festival began on Wednesday.

He said he enjoyed working with Netflix and was happy for jury president Pedro Almodovar to see his movie despite his critical stance on Netflix.

At the start of Okja‘s debut screening on Friday, the movie was temporarily misframed on the big screen, leading to boos and jeers from the assembled international press corps. Eventually the screening was briefly stopped so that the problem could be fixed and the movie restarted. Cannes organizers later issued a statement taking responsibility for the incident and apologizing to the filmmakers.

The snafu followed some heat for Okja during the Cannes jury press conference earlier in the week. This year’s jury chair, Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar, read a prepared statement that suggested he might be preemptively excluding the film from consideration for the Palme d’Or, due to Netflix’s involvement and the streaming giant’s plans to release the movie online in most markets.

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“I personally don’t perceive the Palme d’Or [should be] given to a film that is then not seen on the big screen,” he said. “All this doesn’t mean that I am not open or [don’t] celebrate new technologies and opportunities, but…