The talk of the Cannes isn’t about a particular movie — it’s about how movies are distributed in general. For the first time in the film festival’s history, two Netflix films, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories, are competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or. It’s a clash between the old guard (movies should still be released in movie theaters) and the new (movie theaters are a thing of the past). During his opening statement, jury president and acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar commented, “I personally cannot conceive of not only the Palme d’Or, but any other prize, being given to a film and then being unable to see this film on a large screen.” Later, another member of the jury, Will Smith (whose next film, Bright, will be released on Netflix), said, “In my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit… They get to see films they absolutely wouldn’t have seen.”
One of those movies is Okja. Joon-ho’s track record is incredible — The Host is a monster movie masterpiece (MMM?), and Mother and Memories of Murder are less known but nearly as good — but his biggest hit in the United States, Snowpiercer, barely cracked $4 million at the box office. Joon-ho’s films are best viewed on the big screen, but if he can get a larger audience for a movie as out-there at Okja, then maybe the Netflix model isn’t such a bad thing.
Here’s the official “Super Pig Project” premise.
This grand global adventure follows a friendship too big to ignore. Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja. Following her across continents, the coming-of-age comedy drama sees Mija’s horizons expand in a way one never would want for one’s children, coming up against the harsh realities of food experimentation, globalization, eco-terrorism, and humanity’s obsession with image, brand and self-promotion.
Okja — which stars Ahn Seo-hyun, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, and Tilda Swinton at her most Tilda Swinton (“…and most importantly, they need to taste f*cking good”) — comes out on June 28. Watch the trailer above.