‘I caused the whole controversy’ says Okja filmmaker
Bong Joon-ho believes the film industry to adopt a new system or new rules following his plan to stream the film online while it’s in cinemas
By Kim Jae-heun
Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho said he caused the controversy revolving around the distribution of his new movie “Okja” and he respects the decision of both Netflix and the local cinemas.
“I am causing a stir everywhere I go. And these stirs are creating new rules,” said Bong at Four Seasons Seoul. “Cannes International Film Festival is discussing how to deal with Netflix films in the future. I guess this is the destiny for Okja.”
“I also understand and respect the decisions of local multiplexes. The cinema chains want at least three weeks of holdback time and Netflix will follow its principle of screening its original content concurrently on its platform and at theatres. I can’t take that priority right from Netflix subscribers who pay fees to watch the original content including Okja,” Bong said.
The filmmaker said that he wanted the audience to watch his movie on a big screen and shot the film with the intention that Okja will be screened in as many theatres as possible.
Bong said the controversy started from his desire to make a quality movie.
However, the director believes this is a good chance for the film industry to adopt a new system or new rules.
“I think it would have been easier if France had this controversy fixed beforehand at Cannes. We were only invited to the festival with “Okja,” but we had to face the controversy suddenly. We felt ashamed,” said Bong.
In the last month, the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF) declared its position against inviting Netflix films to Cannes.
The international film festival’s organising committee later confirmed it will maintain the two Netflix productions including “Okja,” which was invited to join the competition category for the Palme d’Or award.
Cannes later announced that it will only invite films being screened in French theatres beginning next year.
“Okja” is not quite welcomed in South Korea either.
Despite the film distributor, NEW’s effort to screen “Okja” across the country, the three biggest cinema chains refused to play Netflix’s original content — alleging that it is disrupting the local film distribution market.
Bong’s latest film will only be screened at 100 independent theatres for now.
“Okja” is a story about a country girl, Mija, travelling to New York in search of her lost pet Okja, a giant pig-like creature. Mija and Okja grew up in the countryside of Gangwon Province in Korea for 10 years until one day, Lucy Mirando, played by Tilda Swinton, takes Okja to the U.S. to use it in a lucrative project.
The sci-fi drama is set for release at theatres in Korea, the United States and England on June 29. Netflix will open the film concurrently on its online platform on the same day.