Our third day of the Cannes Film Festival began with a 6am start in order to make it down to the Palais for the 8:30 screening of OKJA. This early morning was a common occurrence – I wasn’t lying when I said there is very little sleep to be had! OKJA, a social commentary on animal welfare from Bong Joon Ho features a giant CGI super-pig, which more closely resembles a hippopotamus.
OKJA had been on everyone’s lips whilst waiting in the queues for other screenings. Following on from the previous day’s WONDERSTRUCK, which received positive yet not exceptional reviews, OKJA had audiences primed for the appearance of a masterpiece. Did it meet everyone’s expectations? I want to hope so. Released under Netflix after failing to gain funding from its competitors, the film had already met with prejudice regarding its validity. Controversy, fronted by Jury President Pedro Almodovar, led to many to boo in disgrace at the opening title card which brandished the scarlet N of the Netflix logo. However, this was later twisted by either pessimistic or unreliably informed journalists, who were eager to proclaim that the entire film had received the infamous “le Boo” from the audience. OKJA was faced with further complications when the masking from the curtains was not coordinated to the aspect ratio of the film, leading to uproar across the audience from both those in favour of and against the Netflix feature. The technical problem was, albeit slowly, rectified and the entire film played again without complication.
Those of us from Take One who attended the screening hailed OKJA as an instant favourite. Even now, having sampled the rest of the Festival programme, it remains high in our estimations. Its likelihood of winning the Palme d’Or may be hindered by the negativity towards Netflix, particularly from the Jury President, but its position in the programme was arguably a successful move for the film and for Joon Ho.
By now the entire festival was underway with a multitude of cinemas screening an even greater number of films. With each of us having different tastes in film, the majority of us dispersed during the day only to reconvene in the evening. However, this did mean that as a collective we were able to watch a huge range of films from every genre and language. I took the time to watch a few horror and thriller films whilst I was at the festival, knowing that some would fail to achieve distribution in the UK and never be heard from again. STILL/BORN caught my eye and surpassed my expectations as a scary film despite watching it at midday in a small dark room with 30 other people. Taking on a occupancy to fill the void of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise, STILL/BORN was a well structured baby-monitor laden horror which is likely to see its way over to UK cinemas shortly – I hope! Other films included a wonderful trip into the French vineyards with French family drama BACK TO BURGUNDY: a feast for the eyes and palate.
Fast forward another 12 hours or so, with a very little portion saved for actual sleep, and the fourth day premiered BEATS PER MINUTE (BPM) by Robin Campillo, sometimes styled as 120 BPM – referring to the average human heart rate. It’s an emotional story about the AIDS activists, ACT UP PARIS, who are peacefully protesting the unfair neglect and ignorance AIDS patients have been faced with from the government. 120 BPM renders the audience both shocked and touched, but still fails to progress past the setting of the group meetings which comprise the majority of the film. Regardless, it’s anticipated that this great feature from Campillo will be in with a good chance of winning this year’s Palme d’Or.