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Cannes gold less important than environmental message, say Okja actors: Howell

CANNES, FRANCE — Actors Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal came out swinging Friday in the screen-size debate at the Cannes Film Festival, as they sided with online service Netflix and against Palme d’Or jury president Pedro Almodovar.The co-stars of Netflix’s Okja, a film by South Korea’s Boog Joon Ho in the style of E.T.: the Extraterrestrial about a young girl’s quest to save her giant pet pig from corporate butchers, were reacting to Almodovar’s earlier comments that he couldn’t see giving the Palme to a movie that skips traditional big-screen distribution. Netflix plans to stream Okja directly to TV and computer screens starting June 28, with only a token theatrical rollout in a few countries, Canada not among them.“The truth is, we didn’t actually come here for prizes,” a defiant Swinton told a news conference following Okja’s morning world premiere in the Palais des Festivals, where it’s one of 19 films competing for the Palme and other glory at festival’s end on May 28. “We came here to show this film to the Cannes film festival and to people who have gathered here from all over the world.”Gyllenhaal agreed, saying there is “no better time than now” for Okja’s pro-environment, pro-nature and pro-animal welfare messages, and if the film can reach more people by way of online distribution, that’s all to the good:Article Continued Below“The platform of a film, how far it can reach, to how many people it can get to to communicate a message is extraordinarily important. I think it’s truly a blessing when any art gets to reach one person, let alone hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.”At Wednesday’s fest-opening press conference, Spanish director Almodovar strongly voiced his opposition to giving festival prizes to online-only films because they lack “the capacity of hypnosis of the large screen for the viewer.” The festival seems to agree, perhaps regretting allowing Netflix into the competition for the first time this year, since it has announced that starting in 2018, only films destined for the big screen will be allowed to compete here.

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