Netflix screening hit by fault

Swinton and Bong keep their cool.

by Richard Mowe

Bong Joon-Ho, Tilda Swinton and An Seo Hyun at the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of Okja
Bong Joon-Ho, Tilda Swinton and An Seo Hyun at the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of Okja Photo: Cannes Film Festival

Could it be the curse of Netflix? The Cannes media screening of a film part-produced by the streaming giant got off to a rocky start when Okja by South Korean film-maker Bong Joon-Ho was shown this morning (19 May) to chorus of boos, hissing and slow hand-claps from the assembled throng.

They weren’t reacting to the film itself, but the fact that it appeared on screen in the wrong wide-screen format with a third of the image being obviously shown above the black masking.

It took a full six or seven minutes before the mistake was recognised by the technical team and the showing was stopped in a cacophony of protest to allow the fault to be rectified. It took another 20 minutes before the screening was resumed.

Bong seemed non-plussed at the news when later he confronted the media, suggesting that it was not a bad thing for them to have seen the helter-skelter opening sequence for a second time.

Netflix are in the throes of a Festival controversy over their decision to disallow the film (and also The Meyerowitz Stories) any screenings in cinemas in France and elsewhere. Okja is clearly a film made for the big screen. The Cannes authorities have introduced a new ruling to prevent such a situation at next year’s Festival.

Tilda Swinton who plays evil twin sisters and corporate heads in the film, was not worried if the row compromised the title’s chances of winning a prize. Jury head Pedro Almodóvar had said on the first day of the Festival that he couldn’t imagine giving the Palme d’Or to a film that wouldn’t be seen on the big screen. Swinton said: “We didn’t come here to win prizes but rather to ensure the film was seen at the Festival.”

The Cannes organisers have admitted their culpability in this morning’s fiasco. A statement said: “This incident is completely due to the technical staff of the festival who deeply apologise to the director and his team, to the producers as well as to the audience,” the festival said in a statement.

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