Cannes Apologizes for Technical Malfunction at Netflix's 'Okja' Screening

Loud jeers from the assembled international press corps met the beginning of the morning screening after a technical malfunction.

Cannes Film Festival organizers on Friday responded to a technical malfunction during the  morning press screening for Netflix's competition film Okja, offering their apologies.

"A technical problem occurred during the press screening of Okja, the film by Bong Joon Ho, this morning at the 8:30 a.m. screening at the Auditorium Lumiere," said a statement from the festival, released at around 10:35 a.m. local time. "After an interruption of several minutes, the screening started again and went normal."

It added: "This incident is completely due to the technical staff of the festival who deeply apologize to the director and his team, to the producers as well as to the audience."

The masking of the Palais' screen was set incorrectly, resulting in misframing the movie with the top and the bottom sections of the print cut off. The tech problems led to boos from the international press corps before the screening was suspended and restarted 15 minutes later.

This time, the film was correctly projected after the curtain was raised further up. The press crowd both cheered and booed when Netflix's logo appeared on the screen. Some in the crowd were overheard speculating that it was intentional and a conspiracy to sabotage Netflix.

A Netflix representative declined to comment.

After the screening, the film earned a brief round of applause from the press in the audience. And, despite the dramatic debut flub, the emerging critical consensus appeared to be largely positive. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw tweeted, "Boog Joon-ho's Okja is a wonderful family action-adventure in the spirit of Roald Dahl, Melissa Mathison and Dodie Smith," while Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson tweeted, "OKJA is great. A spirited, weird, poignant plea for compassion and principle. It's closing moments feel like a benediction. #Cannes2017."

This year's Cannes festival is a watershed moment for Netflix, which has two titles in the competition lineup (Bong’s Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories from Noah Baumbach). Cinema purists have said this sets a dangerous precedent since the films don't get a theatrical release.

Festival organizers last week unveiled a new requirement for competition films to have traditional theatrical distribution in French theaters after the French Cinema Federation (FNCF) objected to the inclusion of two Netflix films in Cannes' official selection. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hit back with a post on Facebook, saying: "The establishment [is] closing ranks against us."

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