Cannes Film Festival Publicly Denounces 'Okja', Refuses to Embrace Netflix Movies

Friday, 19 May 2017 - 11:34AM
Netflix
Okja
Friday, 19 May 2017 - 11:34AM
Cannes Film Festival Publicly Denounces 'Okja', Refuses to Embrace Netflix Movies
Image credit: Netflix
The Cannes film festival is, in many ways, designed to be the pinnacle of movie respectability, providing screenings of high-concept, classy art pictures that give creators a chance to show off their genius. This year, though, there's a wrinkle in the formula, as the old boys of the Cannes governing body have been confronted with the notion that the movie landscape is changing. They do not like that, not one bit.

Okja, a seemingly very complex movie about environmentalism, animal rights, and the relationship between humans and nature, has won a coveted spot at the Cannes festival despite not having a theatrical release. The Netflix original movie is directed by Snowpiercer's Bong Joon-Ho and stars big names like Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, so it's clearly not some dinky little student project, but nevertheless, its inclusion at the festival has raised some eyebrows, and the governing body has already announced that, in future years, movies made for the internet won't be eligible for selection.



This year's jury chair, Pedro Almodovar, has gone so far as to hint that Okja doesn't stand a chance at winning the coveted Palme d'Or at this year's festival, simply by virtue of its lack of a theatrical release, stating that "[as long as] I'm alive I'll be fighting for the capacity of hypnosis of the large screen for the viewer".

In response, Bong Joon-Ho has been very gracious, while Tilda Swinton, a little more outspoken, argued that "there is room for everyone", but noted that "the truth is we didn't actually come here for prizes".

It is significant that Okja was allowed a screening at Cannes, regardless of whether or not it'll be allowed to win an award, but the reaction from the crowd of attendees who watched the movie during its screening on Friday speaks volumes—reports claim that the audience booed the Netflix logo, in a clear show of animosity towards the ever-growing media giant.

So it seems that, for the moment at least, Cannes will remain behind the times, having rejected the possibility that good work can be produced for the digital screen. This is a shame, as in a world where artistic, thoughtful films are struggling more and more to be taken seriously by a blockbuster-fueled movie industry, it would probably be best for filmmakers to embrace great movies, regardless of whether they're intended for a theatrical release.

Ultimately, Cannes' new rule will only prove detrimental to the film festival itself. As the movie streaming trend gains steam, new awards ceremonies and festivals will start appearing to cater to this emerging movie platform, and the older, less flexible members of the film community will be left behind.

Okja premieres on Netflix on June 28th, 2017.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Netflix
Okja
No