Cannes audience 'almost rioted' after technical issues for Netflix film Okja

Anita Tucker
May 20, 2017

Okja, starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, is one of the hottest movies at this year's festival but controversial because USA video-on-demand company Netflix has refused to screen it in French cinemas.

The streaming service has divided film professionals at the festival, though it was unclear if the boos were because of a technical problem or because some oppose Netflix and Amazon being in competition, since their films debut on small screens rather than in theaters.

And when the film did eventually restart, the logo was once again met with a chorus of jeers.

"In fact, I loved working with Netflix, they gave me total freedom, in terms of the casting, shooting and editing", said Bong today in the presser ahead of the film's world premiere screening at the Palais.

"This incident is completely due to the technical staff of the festival who deeply apologize to the director and his team, to the producers as well as to the audience", the statement added.

The streaming giant has refused to show both its films in the running for the Palme d'Or top prize in French cinemas, sparking a bitter row which overshadowed the start of the world's top film festival.

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French rules mean that movies can not be streamed online until three years after their theatrical release, and Netflix has ruled out any such release in France - creating a controversy that has been hard to avoid at the festival. Okja is one of two Netflix-funded films in competition for the Palme d'Or.

The festival quickly issued an apology, insisting the error was technical and not anti-Netflix sabotage.

The trailer arrives in the aftermath of an Okja teaser trailer, a viral video-style clip starring the chameleonic Tilda Swinton as Lucy Mirando, the eponymous CEO of the Mirando Corporation.

Just a few years ago the movie would have been positioned as a major theatrical tent-pole release, but it will instead be launched directly into people's homes at the end of this year. "And then we got one".

By coincidence, Will Smith is a member of the jury in Cannes this year and defended Netflix as a viewing platform that offers easy access to titles that would otherwise struggle to find an audience. Directed by Bong Joon Ho, the film stars Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, An Seo Hyun, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, and Giancarlo Esposito; watch it below after the official synopsis... "So the mere fact that he talks about my film, whether it's in glowing or negative terms, that's fine for me". Swinton called the hubbub in Cannes over Netflix the start of "an enormous and really interesting conversation" and declared "there's room for everybody" in Cannes. "It's all an evolutionary process, and Netflix has given Bong Joon Ho the chance to make his absolutely liberated vision a reality, and for that, I'm so grateful".

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