It's a bird, it's a plane... no, it's a super pig! At least it is in the case of "Okja", the highly anticipated Netflix film that's causing a bit of a stir at the 70th Cannes Film Festival.
Netflix launched the first trailer for the film this week, which until now has been pretty secretive with one of its stars: a CGI "super pig" named Okja. Joining the big pig is an international cast featuring Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Byun Heebon, Steven Yeun, Jake Gyllenhaal and An Seo Hyun.
Mija (An Seo Hyun), a young girl living in the quiet mountains of South Korea, has spent 10 years taking care of a massive animal, and her best friend, Okja. But things don't stay ideal forever when the CEO of a multinational conglomerate, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), takes Okja out of the saftey of the mountains. The Mirando Corporation has big, delicious plans for Okja, and Mija will do everything in her power to keep her friend off a plate.
Much like his previous cult-classic "Snowpiercer", the film's director Bong Joon Ho blends his native Korean in with English to create a cross-cultural, universal story. But the film is also part of a bigger narrative in a clash of old and new media at the Cannes Film Festival.
Cannes we dig it?
"Okja" is one of two Netflix films In Competition at Cannes this year, along with Noah Baumbach's "The Meyerowitz Stories" which stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Dustin Hoffman. The two films have been at the center of a hot debate, as they are among the first films in competition to not screen in French cinemas.
As a response, the festival has now made a condition that films competing for the top prize of the Palme d'Or will have to have been released in French cinemas.
A battle has been raging quietly as the festival ramps up, with the festival Jury clashing on the first day of Cannes.
According to "Variety" Jury president, director Pedro Almodovar ("Volver", "All About My Mother") stuck to tradition, defending the festival's criticism of digital-only releases.
"This doesn't mean I'm not open, or don't celebrate the new technology and the possibilities they offer to us," Almodovar read to the press in a statement at the festival's opening conference. "But while I'm alive, I will be fighting for the one thing the new generation is not aware of -- the capacity of hypnosis of a large screen for a viewer."
Meanwhile, Will Smith -- in his first year on the jury -- defended the streaming giant, using his own children's experience with Netflix as an example of how it's changing the way we consume media.
"In my home," Smith explained, "Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit... It has broadened my children's global cinematic comprehension."
Smith's comments don't come as much of a surprise, considering his next film is a fantasy cop thriller called "Bright" which Netflix will be releasing in December.
In recent weeks, "Okja" has been announced as getting a limited theatrical release in three territories: the U.S, U.K. and South Korea. It is one of only three Netflix films to receive theatrical releases, joining "Beasts of No Nation" which was screened in the U.S. and U.K, and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny" which was released in select IMAX cinemas across the U.S.
Each time Netflix releases films in cinemas, they simultaneously release on their digital platform, which violates the traditional 90-day window between theatrical releases and home entertainment availability. Exhibitors in the U.S. have been consistently vocal in objecting to Netflix's day and date releases, boycotting their films and pushing the streaming platform into limited release via more independent cinemas.
Meanwhile, the "Okja" director seems unfazed saying that the only condition Netflix gave him while creating the film was that he had to shoot digitally.
"Okja" has been selected as the Closing Night film at the Sydney Film Festival, and will be available on Netflix 10 days later on June 28.
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