2021 Academy Awards: presenters and performers announced

April 23, 2021

The following is a combination of press releases from ABC:

Oscar® nominee Steven Yeun will join the ensemble cast slated to present at the 93rd Oscars®, show producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh announced today. “The Oscars” will air live on Sunday, April 25, 2021, on ABC.

“Surprise! We’re so excited to welcome Steven to the crew, and he completes our Oscars cast. No, really, this is it,” said Collins, Sher and Soderbergh.

The previously announced lineup includes Riz Ahmed, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Viola Davis, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Bong Joon Ho, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger and Zendaya.

Celeste, H.E.R., Leslie Odom Jr., Laura Pausini, Daniel Pemberton, Molly Sandén and Diane Warren will perform the five nominated original songs in their entirety for “Oscars: Into the Spotlight,” the lead-in to the 93rd Oscars. One performance will be recorded in Húsavík, Iceland, and four at the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Hosted by actors Ariana DeBose (“Hamilton”) and Lil Rel Howery (“Bad Trip”), the 90-minute “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will highlight the nominees’ journey to Hollywood’s biggest night, give fans around the world the ultimate insiders’ sneak peek to the party and, for the first time, bring Oscar music to the festivities. The show will feature a special appearance by DJ Tara. “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will air Oscar Sunday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. EDT/3:30 p.m. PDT.  

The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby® Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and international locations via satellite.  “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will air live on ABC at 6:30 p.m. EDT/3:30 p.m. PDT. “The Oscars” will be televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT and in more than 200 territories worldwide.  “Oscars: After Dark” will immediately follow the Oscars show.

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 10,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

2019 Hollywood Film Awards: recap and photos

November 3, 2019

Al Pacino (left), winner of the Hollywood Supporting Actor Award, and “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

The following is a press release from Dick Clark Productions:

The 23rd Annual “Hollywood Film Awards” brought together Hollywood’s elite to honor the year’s most talked about and highly anticipated actors, actresses and films, and those who helped bring them to life. The awards ceremony, celebrating its 23rd anniversary as the official launch of the awards season, was hosted by actor and comedian Rob Riggle, and took place at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. In its 23-year history, over 340 of the world’s biggest stars and filmmakers have been highlighted at the “Hollywood Film Awards” and more than 140 of the honorees have gone on to garner Oscar nominations and/or wins.

Rob Riggle  at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for HFA)

Host Rob Riggle infused the ceremony with heart and humor, proving to be a steadfast guide through the evening’s many memorable moments. There was no shortage of standing ovations for both presenters and honorees alike, who included some of the most iconic members of the Hollywood community. Al Pacino took time to acknowledge many of his fellow honorees and friends in the room as he accepted the “Hollywood Supporting Actor Award.”

Martin Scorsese at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for HFA)

After a presentation from her mentor Martin Scorsese, “Hollywood Producer Award” recipient Emma Tillinger Koskoff delivered an emotional speech, offering a tear-filled thank you to the legendary director and producer. “Hollywood Filmmaker Award” honoree Bong Joon Ho, spoke in his native tongue to deliver a universal message that “we use only one language of cinema.”

Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for HFA)

In a touching moment between “Hollywood Career Achievement Award” presenter Nicole Kidman and this year’s honoree Charlize Theron, Kidman remarked that “we don’t get to choose our heroes, but through this journey, I got to work with one of mine!”

Antonio Banderas and Dakota Johnson at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Dakota Johnson took the stage to present Antonio Banderas with the “Hollywood Actor Award,” and reflected upon her realization that Banderas has become one of the most influential people in her life. He accepted by dedicating the award to Dakota, and his daughter Stella, who was in the room to share the night with him.

Cynthia Erivo at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for HFA)

Viola Davis presented Cynthia Erivo with the “Hollywood Breakout Actress Award,” calling her “fearlessness personified” as she takes on the role of Harriet Tubman. Ray Romano brought the laughs as he showered praise upon “Hollywood Breakout Actor” honoree Taron Egerton, pointing out how unfair it is that Egerton is not only endlessly talented, but funny as well.

Robert Downey Jr. and Shia LaBeouf at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019 . (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for HFA)

Christian Bale and Matt Damon turned up to honor their “Ford v Ferrari” director James Mangold, while Robert Downey Jr. was on hand to laud “Honey Boy” actor and screenwriter Shia LeBeouf with the “Hollywood Breakthrough Screenwriter Award.”  Former co-stars Jennifer Garner and Olivia Wilde celebrated Wilde’s “Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award,” each sharing humorous tales of their adventures together on set.

Olivia Wilde at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for HFA)

Kevin Feige and Victoria Alonso joined together to accept the “Hollywood Blockbuster Award,” thanking their amazing writers, directors, and awe-inspiring cast, including presenter Mark Ruffalo. Alicia Keys began her tribute to “Hollywood Song Award” honoree Pharrell Williams by recognizing all of the love in the room, before Williams delivered a powerful speech focusing on the unparalleled contributions made by “The Black Godfather” subject, Clarence Avant. He said that he has opened doors when others would glue them shut and has consistently demanded equality throughout his career.

Finn Wittrock, Renée Zellweger and Jessie Buckley at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

“Judy” co-stars Finn Wittrock and Jessie Buckley were on hand to recognize their leading lady Renée Zellweger with the “Hollywood Actress Award.” She said that the experience of playing Judy Garland was “one of those rare opportunities that essentially make no sense at all, but becomes your greatest accomplishment!”

Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe at the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for HFA)

After an earnest tribute from Jon Hamm, “Hollywood Screenwriter Award” honoree Anthony McCarten joked about finding success when he strayed from his teacher’s advice to write what he knows. He advised others to write what they want to know, that curiosity is what drove him to this project. Willem Dafoe presented his friend and colleague Laura Dern with the “Hollywood Supporting Actress Award,” praising the inspiring way in which she connects to audiences through her compassion.

This year’s award show honored the following:

“Hollywood Career Achievement Award”
Charlize Theron, presented by Nicole Kidman

“Hollywood Actor Award”
Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory, presented by Dakota Johnson

“Hollywood Actress Award”
Renée Zellweger for Judy, presented by Finn Wittrock & Jessie Buckley

“Hollywood Supporting Actor Award”
Al Pacino for The Irishman, presented by Francis Ford Coppola

“Hollywood Supporting Actress Award”
Laura Dern for Marriage Story, presented by Willem Dafoe

“Hollywood Producer Award”
Emma Tillinger Koskoff for The Irishman, presented by Martin Scorsese

“Hollywood Director Award”
James Mangold for Ford v Ferrari, presented by Christian Bale & Matt Damon

“Hollywood Filmmaker Award”
Bong Joon Ho for Parasite, presented by Sienna Miller

“Hollywood Screenwriter Award”
Anthony McCarten for The Two Popes, presented by Jon Hamm

“Hollywood Blockbuster Award”
Avengers: Endgame, presented by Mark Ruffalo

“Hollywood Song Award”
Pharrell Williams for Letter To My Godfather, presented by Alicia Keys

“Hollywood Breakout Actor Award”
Taron Egerton for Rocketman, presented by Ray Romano

“Hollywood Breakout Actress Award”
Cynthia Erivo for Harriet, presented by Viola Davis

“Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award”
Olivia Wilde for Booksmart, presented by Jennifer Garner

“Hollywood Breakthrough Screenwriter Award”
Shia LaBeouf for Honey Boy, presented by Robert Downey Jr.

“Hollywood Animation Award”
Toy Story 4

“Hollywood Cinematography Award”
Mihai Malaimare Jr. for Jojo Rabbit

“Hollywood Film Composer Award”
Randy Newman for Marriage Story

“Hollywood Editor Award”
Michael McCusker & Andrew Buckland for Ford v Ferrari

“Hollywood Visual Effects Award”
Pablo Helman for The Irishman

“Hollywood Sound Award”
Donald Sylvester, Paul Massey, David Giammarco, & Steven A. Morrow for Ford v Ferrari

“Hollywood Costume Design Award”
Anna Mary Scott Robbins for Downton Abbey

“Hollywood Make-Up & Hair Styling Award”
Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou, Tapio Salmi, & Barrie Gower for Rocketman

“Hollywood Production Design Award”
Ra Vincent for Jojo Rabbit

Honoree Portraits are available on the show’s Twitter and Instagram pages. For all information and highlights, please visit the website for the Hollywood Film Awards.

For the latest news, follow the “Hollywood Film Awards” on social and join the conversation by using the official hashtag for the show, #HollywoodAwards.

Twitter: @HollywoodAwards
Facebook: Facebook.com/HollywoodAwards
Instagram: @hollywoodawards

About Dick Clark Productions
Dick Clark Productions (DCP) is the world’s largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming with the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “American Music Awards,” “Billboard Music Awards,” “Golden Globe Awards,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” and the “Streamy Awards.” Weekly television programming includes “So You Think You Can Dance” from 19 Entertainment and DCP. DCP also owns one of the world’s most unique and extensive entertainment archive libraries with over 60 years of award-winning shows, historic programs, specials, performances and legendary programming. DCP is a division of Valence Media, a diversified and integrated media company with divisions and strategic investments in television, film, live entertainment, digital media and publishing. For additional information, visit www.dickclark.com.

About the Hollywood Film Awards
The Hollywood Film Awards, founded in 1997, were created to celebrate Hollywood and launch the awards season. The recipients of the awards are selected by an Advisory Team for their body of work and/or a film(s) that is to be released during the calendar year. For additional information, visit www.hollywoodawards.com.

2019 Hollywood Film Awards: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Pharrell Williams, Bong Joon-ho among honorees

October 17, 2019

The Hollywood Film Awards announced today that the critically acclaimed worldwide phenomenon, “Avengers: Endgame,” the all-time highest-grossing film in history, will receive the “Hollywood Blockbuster Award,” presented to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and Executive Vice President of Production Victoria Alonso at the 23rd Annual “Hollywood Film Awards.” Additionally, award-winning musical artist and producer Pharrell Williams will be honored at the ceremony with the “Hollywood Song Award” for his song “Letter To My Godfather,” from the Clarence Avant documentary “The Black Godfather.” Actor and comedian Rob Riggle will host the “Hollywood Film Awards,” which will take place on Sunday, November 3, 2019, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.

ABOUT THE HONOREES
Avengers: Endgame – The epic conclusion to the Infinity Saga that became a critically acclaimed worldwide phenomenon, this dramatic showdown pits the Avengers against the universe’s most powerful villain, Thanos. After devastating events wiped out half the world’s population and fractured their ranks, the remaining heroes struggle to move forward. But they must come together to restore order and harmony in the universe and bring their loved ones back. Featuring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Brie Larson, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana and Evangeline Lilly, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” is produced by Kevin Feige and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Trinh Tran, Jon Favreau, James Gunn and Stan Lee are the executive producers, and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wrote the screenplay.

Kevin Feige has been the driving creative force behind several billion-dollar franchises and an unprecedented number of blockbuster feature films, all connected to create the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In his current role as producer and president of Marvel Studios, Feige is a hands-on producer and oversees Marvel Studios’ feature film productions, whose 23 films released have all opened No. 1 at the box office and collectively grossed over $21 billion worldwide. Eight of the MCU films have crossed the $1 billion threshold at the global box office. This May, Marvel Studios’ critically acclaimed “Avengers: Endgame” broke records on its way to becoming the highest grossing worldwide release of all time after 89 days in theaters. To date, Avengers: Endgame has garnered over $2.795 billion at the worldwide box office and was the fastest film in cinematic history to reach $2 billion, which it did within 11 days of release. The film also had the highest opening weekend of all time with over $1.2 million.

A native of Buenos Aires, Victoria Alonso serves as EVP of Production for Marvel Studios and as an executive producer of all Marvel films which have amassed over $20 billion worldwide including “Avengers: Endgame,” “Captain America,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Thor,” “Black Panther,” and the female-led “Captain Marvel” as well as upcoming storylines around major strong female characters such as “Black Widow.”  Alonso began her career in visual effects & production – from PA to VFX Producer and eventually joining Marvel as EVP of visual effects and post production.  Alonso was named one of People en Español Magazine’s top “Poderosa” Most Influential Hispanic Women in 2019. She was also listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s 2017/2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100 and was the 2015 honoree for the Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement. She was the first woman to be presented with the Harold Lloyd Award from the Advanced Imaging Society, and the first woman to receive the Visionary Award at the 15th Annual VES Awards.

Pharrell Williams is a visionary recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. He has been a creative force in the music industry and beyond for more than two decades.

Over the years, Pharrell has been honored with 13 Grammy Awards, including 2004’s, 2014’s and 2019’s Producer of the Year, and ASCAP’s prestigious Golden Note Award in 2012. In 2017, he received an Academy Award nomination for co-producing Best Picture-nominated “Hidden Figures” (2016), as well as a Golden Globe nomination for co-scoring the film. In 2014, his original song “Happy,” featured in “Despicable Me 2,” also received an Academy Award nomination.

In 2008, Pharrell founded From One Hand To AnOTHER (FOHTA), a foundation that provides over 1,700 children across the US with summer camps focused on S.T.E.A.M.M. – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Motivation. Serving predominantly at-risk and low-income elementary, middle and high school students. In the spring of 2020, Pharrell will launch YELLOW, an organization that will focus on “evening the odds” for every student to have access to a first-rate education.

In 2019, Pharrell launched the first ever SOMETHING IN THE WATER, a multi-day music festival and cultural experience on the beach in his hometown of Virginia Beach.  The festival’s mission was to unite the community and celebrate the diversity and magic of Virginia Beach.  It was an opportunity to bring the best of what Pharrell has encountered around the world back to his hometown. The weekend celebrated opportunity and the chance to empower everyone from the youth to the small business owners.

Most recently, Williams released “Letter To My Godfather,” an original song for Netflix’s “Black Godfather” about the legendary music executive, Clarence Avant. Williams also produced five songs on the soundtrack for Disney’s 2019 remake of “The Lion King” including, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” “Hakuna Matata,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “Mbube.”

“Avengers: Endgame,” Feige, Alonso and Williams join previously announced honorees: Shia LaBeouf will receive the “Hollywood Breakthrough Screenwriter Award,” Taron Egerton will receive the “Hollywood Breakout Actor Award,” Cynthia Erivo will receive the “Hollywood Breakout Actress Award,” Olivia Wilde will receive the “Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award,” Bong Joon Ho will receive the “Hollywood Filmmaker Award,” Emma Tillinger Koskoff will receive the “Hollywood Producer Award,” James Mangold will receive the “Hollywood Director Award,” Anthony McCarten will receive the “Hollywood Screenwriter Award,” “Toy Story 4” will receive the “Hollywood Animation Award,” Mihai Malaimare Jr. will receive the “Hollywood Cinematography Award” for “Jojo Rabbit,” Randy Newman will receive the “Hollywood Film Composer Award” for “Marriage Story,” Michael McCusker & Andrew Buckland will receive the “Hollywood Editor Award” for “Ford v Ferrari,” Pablo Helman will receive the “Hollywood Visual Effects Award” for “The Irishman,” Donald Sylvester, Paul Massey, David Giammarco, & Steven A. Morrow will receive the “Hollywood Sound Award” for “Ford v Ferrari,” Anna Mary Scott Robbins will receive the “Hollywood Costume Design Award” for “Downton Abbey,” Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou, Tapio Salmi, & Barrie Gower will receive the “Hollywood Make-Up & Hair Styling Award” for “Rocketman” and Ra Vincent will receive the “Hollywood Production Design Award” for “Jojo Rabbit.”

Additional honorees for this year’s event will be announced in the coming weeks.

For the latest news, follow the “Hollywood Film Awards” on social and join the conversation by using the official hashtag for the show, #HollywoodAwards.

Twitter: @HollywoodAwards
Facebook: Facebook.com/HollywoodAwards
Instagram: @hollywoodawards

About Dick Clark Productions
Dick Clark Productions (DCP) is the world’s largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming with the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “American Music Awards,” “Billboard Music Awards,” “Golden Globe Awards,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” and the “Streamy Awards.” Weekly television programming includes “So You Think You Can Dance” from 19 Entertainment and DCP. DCP also owns one of the world’s most unique and extensive entertainment archive libraries with over 60 years of award-winning shows, historic programs, specials, performances and legendary programming. DCP is a division of Valence Media, a diversified and integrated media company with divisions and strategic investments in television, film, live entertainment, digital media and publishing. For additional information, visit www.dickclark.com.

About the Hollywood Film Awards
The Hollywood Film Awards, founded in 1997, were created to celebrate Hollywood and launch the awards season. The recipients of the awards are selected by an Advisory Team for their body of work and/or a film(s) that is to be released during the calendar year. For additional information, visit  www.hollywoodawards.com.

2019 New York Film Festival: special events, shorts, talks announced

August 23, 2019

Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker” (Photo by Nikos Tavernise)

Film at Lincoln Center announces the complete lineup for the Special Events, Shorts, and Talks sections for the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13).

Special Events will feature Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club Encore, an extended version of his portrait of the eponymous Harlem nightclub where legendary black musicians like Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, and Duke Ellington performed for an exclusively white clientele. Coppola recovered lost negatives to restore sound, image, and the film’s intended length, and will appear in person for a Q&A.

Joker, the highly anticipated origin story of Batman’s arch enemy, starring a brilliant Joaquin Phoenix as the nefarious villain, will screen in a special sneak preview. Phoenix will join audiences for an extended Q&A along with director Todd Phillips and the creative team behind this stunning new vision of Gotham.

Roee Messinger’s American Trial: The Eric Garner Story envisions the fictional but unscripted trial of recently fired officer Daniel Pantaleo for one of the nation’s most disturbing recent tragedies: Eric Garner’s 2014 murder by police chokehold in Staten Island, which galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement. The film features the testimony of real-life witnesses and friends of Garner, and the participation of two legal teams. American Trial will make its World Premiere at NYFF with a free screening and extended panel, featuring the director and a number of the film’s participants.

Special Events also includes a Screenwriting Master Class with Olivier Assayas, a fixture of the New York Film Festival, who will discuss the process of adapting real events into creative fictions, such as his newest film, Wasp Network, playing in this year’s Main Slate.

This year’s four Shorts programs feature a mix of narrative and documentary films from established and emerging artists, with 9 world premieres, including all titles in the annual New York Stories program and Theo Anthony’s Subject to Review (Program 2). Highlights include new work from NYFF alumni Yorgos Lanthimos, Gabriel Abrantes, Gaston Solnicki, Qiu Yang, Martin Rejtman, Pia Borg, Joe Stankus, Adinah Dancyger, Jay Giampietro, Ricky D’Ambrose, and Joanna Arnow.

NYFF Talks return with On Cinema, wherein festival director Kent Jones sits down with world-renowned filmmakers for an in-depth discussion about films that have influenced and inspired them, illustrated with film clips. This year Film at Lincoln Center presents two such talks: with Martin Scorsese, director of Opening selection The Irishman, and Pedro Almodóvar, a festival veteran and director of Main Slate selection Pain and Glory. Directors Dialogues are special Q&As with filmmakers from NYFF57, discussing the ideas and the craft behind their buzzed-about newest works. This year’s participants are Bong Joon-ho, the Palme d’Or–winning director of Parasite, and Mati Diop, who makes her NYFF debut with Atlantics.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FLC Director of Programming, and Florence Almozini, FLC Associate Director of Programming. Shorts are programmed by Tyler Wilson and Madeline Whittle.

HBO is the presenting sponsor of NYFF Talks, which bring wide-ranging conversations with directors featured in NYFF57 to the public and include Directors Dialogues and On Cinema. HBO also sponsors NYFF Live, which will be announced in September.

As part of their commitment to celebrating filmmaking talent, Warby Parker is proud to return this year as the presenting partner of the Screenwriting Master Class.

The NYFF Shorts section is presented by Netflix.

As previously announced, the NYFF57 Opening selection is Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is the Centerpiece, and Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn will close the festival. The complete lineup for the Main Slate, Projections, Convergence, and Spotlight on Documentary can be found here.

Tickets for Special Events and the On Cinema Talks are $30 for General Public and $25 for Members & Students. Some exceptions may apply for select programs, including Joker and the Screenwriting Master Class. Tickets for Shorts and the Directors Dialogues are $17 for General Public and $12 for Members & Students. Visit here for more information.

Tickets for the 57th New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on September 8. Festival and VIP passes are on sale through today, August 23rd and offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events, including Opening and Closing Night.

SPECIAL EVENTS DESCRIPTIONS

American Trial: The Eric Garner Story
Dir. Roee Messinger, USA, 100m
World Premiere

The idea is powerfully simple: engage the services of two actual legal teams to create a rigorous, legally based fictional—yet unscripted—trial that never happened for one of the nation’s most disturbing recent tragedies. The accused is Officer Daniel Pantaleo (only recently fired by New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill), charged in the July 17, 2014 death of Eric Garner with reckless manslaughter and strangulation in the first degree. The judge is played by a seasoned defense lawyer, while the officer is played by the only actor in the cast (Anthony Altieri). Eyewitnesses, bystanders, friends, and his widow, Esaw Snipes, all come to testify; meanwhile, credible expert witnesses who would have likely been called to testify in a real trial provide their testimonies for both the prosecution and the defense to create fair judicial proceedings. Roee Messinger’s film goes deep into the case, placing the audience in the position of the jury. American Trial is a one-of-a-kind film, and this special screening will be free to the public.

The Cotton Club Encore
Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, U.S., 1984, 139m

It’s now clear that Francis Ford Coppola’s eighties constituted his most fruitfully experimental period of filmmaking, when he used the clout from such behemoth masterpieces of the previous decade as the Godfather films and Apocalypse Now to try his hand at films of various genres and budget levels. At the time, The Cotton Club, Coppola’s stylish throwback to those 1930s Hollywood standbys the gangster film and the musical, was considered a costly disappointment, altered seemingly irrevocably due to behind-the-scenes conflicts with producers and financiers. Yet this sophisticated, witty, wildly ambitious movie, starring Gregory Hines and Richard Gere, about the titular Harlem nightclub, where legendary black musicians like Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, and Duke Ellington performed for an exclusively white clientele, was always something special, a rousing American entertainment that was both an evocation of the work of such directors as Raoul Walsh and William Wellman and a loving recreation of the period itself. The brilliance of Coppola’s vision is more apparent than ever in this “reawakened” version, The Cotton Club Encore, for which the director recovered lost negatives to bring the film back to its original length and luster, with restored sound and image.

Joker
Dir. Todd Phillips, USA, 122m

The Joker began life on April 25, 1940 as the anarchic enemy of DC Comics’ Batman, and his appearance was possibly inspired by Conrad Veidt’s permanently, demonically smiling face from the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs. The Joker has gone through many transformations and iterations, but his origin story has never been as vividly or shockingly imagined and realized as it is here, in one of the most anticipated films of the year. Join us for a special screening and discussion with the creative team behind this stunning, truly disturbing vision, led by director Todd Phillips and his brilliant star, Joaquin Phoenix. A Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative release.

Screenwriting Master Class with Olivier Assayas

Presented by Warby Parker
The amazing and eclectic career of French filmmaker Olivier Assayas has encompassed autobiography (Cold Water, Summer Hours, Something in the Air), contemporary meta-fiction (Irma Vep, demonlover, Clouds of Sils Maria), literary adaptation (Les destinées sentimentales), and in the case of the epic Carlos and his latest film in this year’s festival, the exhilarating Wasp Network, about a ring of Cuban refugees functioning as spies for the Castro government while living in Miami in the early nineties, intimate narratives based on true stories. In this special discussion, Assayas will talk about the process of turning real events into creative fictions. Starring Penélope Cruz and Édgar Ramirez, Wasp Network is based on Fernando Morais’s meticulously researched 2015 book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War.

SHORT FILM DESCRIPTIONS

Program 1: International (TRT: 89m)
A mixture of narrative and documentary, this program showcases bold, new films by emerging and established filmmakers working in international cinema today.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Party Day / Dia de Festa
Sofia Bost, Portugal, 2019, 17m
Portuguese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A cash-strapped single mother is pulled into an unresolved family conflict as she struggles to host her daughter’s seventh birthday party. Sofia Bost’s 16mm-shot drama, filled with illuminating performances, renders a complicated depiction of motherhood and the inconsolable grievances inherited by each generation.

Blessed Land / Một Khu Đất Tốt
Phạm Ngọc Lân, Vietnam, 2019, 19m
Vietnamese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Searching for her deceased husband’s grave, a mother wanders with her son through a cemetery that has been partially remade into a golf course. Phạm Ngọc Lân’s intricately staged single-location film merges two disparate time periods, creating unnerving harmony between sociopolitical conspiracy and the natural erosion of memory, spiritual calm and modern decadence.

Circumplector
Gastón Solnicki, Argentina/France, 2019, 3m
U.S. Premiere
Gastón Solnicki’s miniature of Notre-Dame—filmed days before the fire—impressionistically links various media the cathedral evokes, including still-life painting and Baroque music, to present-day footage of work and performance.

San Vittore
Yuri Ancarani, Italy, 2019, 11m
Observing security guards as they search and escort children through Milan’s oldest prison, San Vittore depicts the lingering effects of the institution on its visitors. Visual artist Yuri Ancarani’s short documentary remains firmly immersed in a child’s-eye point of view, evoking the young subjects’ increasing understanding of the institution’s purpose with quiet, disturbing tension.

She Runs / Nan Fang Shao Nv
Qiu Yang, China/France, 2019, 19m
Chinese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Set in Changzhou, a city in China’s southern Jiangsu province, She Runs follows a young student after she tries to quit her school’s aerobic dance team. Eschewing close-ups for long shots—around building corners, or from entirely different rooms—Qiu Yang’s Cannes-winning short follows its protagonist’s mounting desperation, implicating the underlying foundation of Changzhou as much as people inhabiting it.

Shakti
Martin Rejtman, Argentina/Chile, 2019, 20m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Not long after his grandmother dies, a twenty-something man in Buenos Aires breaks up with his girlfriend and begins obsessing over her unexpected reaction—but then he meets someone else. The stylistic exactness, narrative shrewdness, and droll pacing emblematic of Martin Rejtman’s cinematic sensibility are perfectly at home in this short comedy of peculiar minutiae and casual digressions.

Program 2: Documentary (TRT: 68m)
This documentary program connects the imperfections of the human experience to the influence of technology and mass media by pairing Pia Borg’s chilling account of the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s with Theo Anthony’s wry, imaginative essay film about the instant replay system of professional tennis.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Demonic
Pia Borg, Australia, 2019, 30m
North American Premiere
The real and the imagined fold together in Pia Borg’s horror-documentary about the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s, a mass hysteria during which people around the world “recovered” memories of debauchery and human sacrifices related to satanic cults. Using a cunning combination of archival media coverage, audio footage, and historical recreation by way of computer animation and 16mm, Demonic reframes our current moment of misinformation and distrust, revealing the forces at play between psychiatry, media, and false memory.

Subject to Review
Theo Anthony, USA, 2019, 38m
World Premiere
The latest from Theo Anthony (Rat Film) charts the rise and development of the instant replay system Hawk-Eye in professional tennis, cleverly relating innovative technology and the imperfections of the human experience to the history of cinema, sports entertainment, and humanity’s desire to objectively interpret the world. Featuring music by composer Dan Deacon, Subject to Review is another odd, imaginative, and accessible documentary essay from the Baltimore-based filmmaker.

Program 3: Narrative (TRT: 96m)
From absurdist thrillers and political fantasies to lo-fi sci-fi and body horror, these seven shorts from emerging and established international filmmakers make up this wildly eclectic narrative program.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Automatic
Emma Doxiadi, Greece, 2019, 10m
Greek with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Two young women convince each other they are under threat after accidentally photographing what they believe to be a concealed automatic rifle. Shot in drawn-out, static takes, Emma Doxiadi’s comical mystery comments on Greece’s ongoing refugee crisis in real time, pointing squarely at foolish knee-jerk reactions.

Mthunzi
Tebogo Malebogo, South Africa, 2019, 9m
North American Premiere
While walking home from the store, a young man is prompted to help a seizing woman, and unknowingly demonstrates the danger of doing the right thing. Cape Town–based filmmaker Tebogo Malebogo’s briskly tense script and direction elevate Mthunzi from a simple morality tale into a nervous thriller about implicit biases in unfamiliar circumstances.

Control Plan
Juliana Antunes, Brazil, 2018, 15m
Portuguese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Set shortly after former President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, Control Plan follows a young Brazilian woman who uses her cell phone’s teleportation service to flee the country. Politically serious but always funny, this lo-fi sci-fi from Juliana Antunes (Baronesa) is as much a commentary on the fraught paradigm shifts of 2016 as it is a pointed takedown of limited data plans.

Nimic
Yorgos Lanthimos, Germany/UK/USA, 2019, 12m
North American Premiere
Matt Dillon stars as a professional cellist whose seemingly innocent question to a stranger results in weirdly repetitive consequences to his daily routine. Working with cinematographer Diego García (Cemetery of Splendor), Lanthimos lends his distressing, absurdist vision to the instruments, patterns, and lonesome gestures of modern city life.

Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You
Brandon Cronenberg, Canada, 2019, 9m
Brandon Cronenberg uses only in-camera effects to tell the hilarious, house-of-mirrors horror story of a patient at an experimental psychiatric facility (Deragh Campbell) who receives a brain implant that allows her to revisit dreams.

Austral Fever / Fiebre austral
Thomas Woodroffe, Chile, 2019, 21m
U.S. Premiere
After an injury places a teenager on bed rest, he and his adult caretaker develop an unusual attraction to his wound. Filmed mostly in dimly lit spaces with southern Chile’s mountain range as its backdrop, Austral Fever is a slow-burning, quietly perverse fantasy about cabin fever, addictive pleasures, and the mysteries of the human body.

The Marvelous Misadventures of the Stone Lady / Les Extraordinaires mésaventures de la jeune fille de Pierre
Gabriel Abrantes, France/Portugal, 2019, 20m
North American Premiere
A female sculpture escapes from the Louvre to experience the aggressive streets of contemporary Paris in this fairy-tale pastiche from Gabriel Abrantes. Slyly raising questions of liberation through crisply rendered CGI characters in direct contact with the harsher outside world, Abrantes critiques the power structures of venerable institutions without ever forgoing his ability to entertain.

Program 4: New York Stories (TRT: 98m)
This program, now in its fifth year, showcases work from some of the most exciting filmmakers living and working in New York today, including established names and ones to watch.
Programmed by Madeline Whittle and Tyler Wilson.

Good News
Joe Stankus, USA, 2019, 10m
World Premiere
Novelist Evan is excited to share the news that he’s been accepted to a prestigious summer writers’ colony with his husband and their friends over an intimate dinner party. But the big reveal doesn’t go as planned in this finely calibrated domestic-drama-in-miniature.

Caterina
Dan Sallitt, USA, 2019, 17m
World Premiere
Dan Sallitt intimately crafts a small-scale portrait of an inquisitive and compassionate young woman in this subtly episodic slice of life, following the eponymous protagonist through her ongoing, everyday search for connection among friends, lovers, and fellow travelers.

Moving
Adinah Dancyger, USA 2019, 8m
World Premiere
The act of transporting an old mattress into a new walk-up apartment becomes absurdist, cinematic one-woman choreography in this wordless vignette from Adinah Dancyger, full of humor and pathos, and painfully familiar to city-dwellers.

Foreign Powers
Bingham Bryant, USA, 2019, 17m
World Premiere
A nameless young woman recounts a peculiar dream, set in a mysterious fictional city and populated by her real-world friends and acquaintances, in Bingham Bryant’s vivid, precisely conceived exploration into the uncanny logic and banal strangeness of our subconscious wanderings.

the thing that kills me the most
Jay Giampietro, USA, 2019, 5m
World Premiere
Faces, voices, light: language itself is rendered abstract in this impressionistic fugue about fraught interpersonal dynamics at a weekly social engagement, narrated in retrospect by an exasperated fellow guest.

The Sky Is Clear and Blue Today
Ricky D’Ambrose, USA, 2019, 16m
World Premiere
Ricky D’Ambrose brings his trademark marriage of formalist rigor and sly narrative wit to this faux-documentary account of an American director developing an experimental film for German television about the events of September 11, 2001.

Fit Model
Myna Joseph, USA, 2019, 20m
World Premiere
In Myna Joseph’s deft depiction of a woman fiercely determined to get by on her own terms, Lu Simon (Lucy Owen) is a thirty-something struggling actor navigating day jobs and errands across the city, while juggling negotiations with an unhelpful hospital billing department.

Laying Out
Joanna Arnow, USA, 2019, 5m
World Premiere
This tersely lyrical meditation on sex and gender roles from Joanna Arnow features two fed-up mermaids lounging on a beach, drinks in hand, as they vent and commiserate over underacknowledged frustrations and unspoken desires.

TALKS DESCRIPTIONS

On Cinema: Martin Scorsese

In these annual special events, New York Film Festival Director Kent Jones sits down with world-renowned filmmakers for in-depth talks about films from other directors that have influenced them, their discussion illustrated with film clips. In the first of two On Cinema events that the festival is pleased to present this year, Jones will talk with Martin Scorsese, whose epic crime drama The Irishman is this year’s highly anticipated opening event. Scorsese, known as much for his work as a film historian as for his unparalleled, decades-spanning cinematic career, will guide the audience through a selection of films that inspired this remarkable new work.

On Cinema: Pedro Almodóvar

Among the world’s most beloved auteurs, Pedro Almodóvar has shown films at the New York Film Festival eleven times over the past four decades. This year’s selection is perhaps his most personal film yet: Pain and Glory, starring a Cannes Film Festival–awarded Antonio Banderas in the role of a director—essentially a surrogate Almodóvar figure—who has reached a creative block. As with all of his films, there is a deep wellspring of emotion in Pain and Glory, as well as a rich tapestry of allusions and references to a cinematic past, which this conversation will help elucidate.

Directors Dialogues
The Directors Dialogues are the New York Film Festival’s annual series of intimate conversations, in which a selection of filmmakers from this year’s festival sit down for special Q&As to discuss the ideas and the craft behind their buzzed about newest works. Participating directors include:

Bong Joon-ho

The South Korean filmmaker, whose unpredictable and diverse filmography has taken us from the gonzo monster movie The Host to the intense, bloody melodrama of Mother to the graphic novel action of Snowpiercer, has created perhaps his masterpiece with this year’s Palme d’Or–winner Parasite. Bong will discuss his spring-trap-loaded comedy-drama-thriller with a social conscience—so make sure you see it first to not spoil its many surprises.

Mati Diop

The French-Senegalese director made perhaps the year’s most talked-about debut feature with Atlantics, which earned her the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. Both ghost and love story, the film feels unlike any other, hypnotic and supernatural yet grounded in the realities of life as it’s experienced by those living in contemporary, working-class Dakar. Diop will be on hand to discuss how she negotiated these registers and how she constructed her singular film.

Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Steven Yeun shine a light on animal rights in ‘Okja’

June 28, 2017

by Carla Hay

"Okja" press conference in New York City
Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Paul Dano, Bong Joon Ho, Tilda Swinton, An Seo Hyun and Giancarlo Esposito at the New York City press conference for “Okja” (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Netflix)

Genetically modified organisms in food, animal rights and corporate greed are issues that are explored in the Netflix film “Okja,” a satirical drama directed by Bong Joon Ho. “Okja” is available for streaming on Netflix and has a limited release in cinemas. For 10 idyllic years, young Mija (played by An Seo Hyun) has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja—a massive animal and an even bigger friend—at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when a family-owned multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for itself and transports her to New York, where image-obsessed and self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando (played by Tilda Swinton) has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend. She is aided by her right-hand man, Frank Dawson (played by Giancarlo Esposito). Also interested in Okja is Dr. Johnny Wilcox (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), an eccentric TV personality who hosts his own show about nature.

With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission, but her already daunting journey quickly becomes more complicated when she crosses paths with disparate groups of capitalists, demonstrators and consumers, each battling to control the fate of Okja, while all Mija wants to do is bring her friend home. “Okja” also stars Paul Dano, Steven Yeun and Lily Collis as animal-rights activists who are determined to help save Okja and other animals that are being bred for human consumption. Here is what Swinton, Dano, Yeun, Collins, Hyun and Bong had to say at a New York City press conference for “Okja.”

An Seo Hyun in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

What was the most challenging thing about blending the emotions and the action in “Okja” that An Seo Hyun had to convey?

Hyun: On set, I was always thinking about how Mija would perceive all the things that are happening. I would say she was in a “Mija” state. Director Bong helped me constantly think about “Why Mija would do this?” and “What would Mija think?” That helped me maximize how Mija would think in the story.

Bong: An is very experienced, and she is very energetic and curious. She has enough energy to confront Tilda. And because of this high energy, when we filmed those scenic mountain scenes, we tried to distract Mija as best as we could. I would talk about catering, talk about snacks. I tried to distract her because if she tried too hard, the performance wouldn’t come out right. There are so many great actors and actresses around her, she might have been pressured into a poor performance. I did my best to try to relax her as much as possible.

Tilda Swinton in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Tilda, what can you say about your performance in “Okja”?

Swinton: It’s a very simple and relaxed business when you’re working with someone like Director Bong, who invited a kind of playfulness. He just described the relaxedness in all of his comedies, not just performance, but in all departments. Being a very intelligent person in what he knows is that he really wants people to be relaxed and bring something fresh and creative. That’s an environment that I love. It’s like a playpen, like a sandbox to me. It’s like kindergarten, especially working with him. He’s like my playmate.

Tilda Swinton in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Tilda, there was a similar fanaticism shown by Lucy Mirando in “Okja” and your Minister Mason character in director Bong Joon Ho’s “Snowpiercer” movie. What kinds of outside influences went into portraying someone like these characters?

Swinton: We worked on “Snowpiercer” together—Director Bong and I—and we whipped up this insane burlesque of Mason, who’s supposed to be beyond any reality, but as it happens, it seems we were behind the curve.

And for [Lucy Mirando], we wanted to have the idea of a full-clown villain in a slightly different way. We wanted to find different places of high capitalism and exploitation. And so we decided to split [the characters into twins]. We wanted to look at two different ways of messing the world up. She we had Nancy [Mirando, Lucy’s twin]—who doesn’t fall from the tree of her toxic, horrendous father—and Lucy, who’s so determined to be different. She’s driving 180 degrees from that and trying to be all user-friendly and woke and squeaky-clean and lovable. It was an opportunity to look at these two different places.

I suppose, especially when you’re working together in collaboration over projects, the conversation is kind of the same conversation, but it just evolved into a whole new area. There were all sorts of conversations we had about Mason sort of moved into conversations about Miranda. So they are cut from the same circle—and they all have teeth!

An Seo Hyun in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Director Bong, what is about monsters that make them so effective in talking about social issues?

Bong: I’m always drawn to creature films … [which usually] have the monster attack people. But in “Okja,” the creature was a very intimate friend of the protagonist, Mija. They stick together, they have lots of interaction, and they hug each other. It required a lot of cutting-edge visual effects work, which was the first challenge.

When I contemplate why I chose a pig as the animal, there’s no better animal than a pig that humans associate with food. There’s ham, sausage, jerky, etc. In reality, pigs are very delicate, sophisticated and smart. I think the true aspects of how we look at animals are coalesced inside a pig.

There’s one aspect where we look at animals as family, as friends, as pets. And the other perspective is when we look at animals as food. Those two aspects co-exist inside a pig. In our everyday lives, people try to separate these two universes. We play with our pets during the day, and at night, we have a steak dinner. But in this film, we tried to merge those two universes together and create a sense of discomfort. Like you said, a creature is a very effective tool to create social commentary in the world that we live in.

Giancarlo Esposito and Tilda Swinton in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

After doing such an unusual movie like “Okja,” where there’s a lot of absurdity in reality, do you go from here?

Esposito: We’re in that moment now in society. We’re right where should be. When I think of it, I think of working with people who have an interesting vision, who are deeply interconnected with pleasure and entertainment but also allowing my intellect to soar and my imagination to also take off and take wings. So when those get connected, you can’t help but leave this particular film without it resounding in your head. You not only were entertained, but you also have something to think about that is relatable to your life. I don’t know what’s next for me or any of us as actors, but we certainly hope to have the opportunity to work with visionary directors who have something to say, not just something to blow up.

Dano: I’ve always felt that the more personal something is, the more universal it can be. I think whatever means something to me is hopefully going to mean something to somebody else. I don’t know what that is. I think it’s different for everybody. I can’t think about it externally. I think it has to come through and then hopefully it speaks to somebody, whether it’s a big, absurd revelation or something very intimate or whatever the medium is.

Collins: I very much agree with the all sentiments that were said already, but for me, I just want to start conversations. I just want to do films that prompt conversations, whether they’re positive, negative or indifferent—ones where you leave wanting to know more and wanting to watch the film over and over again. I’ve always been a fan of people watching. I find that sometimes when you create a character and you think, “Oh, that’s too much.” And then you walk down the street and you think, “Yeah, it’s too little” or “That’s so subdued.” And then you watch someone and you think, “Actually, that more the way I want to go with it.”

I’m constantly surprised by human nature and humanity. And I think that’s why I love what I do, because I love to storytell and bring new characters to life. And every time I play a character, I discover more about myself as a human being. But I surround myself with interesting people. It doesn’t matter that I’m in this industry, I think in life, we want to surround ourselves with people who make us think and question ourselves. Those are the types of films I want to do and the types of characters that I hope I get to continue to play.

Devon Bostick, Paul Dano, Daniel Henshall, Lily Collins and Steven Yeun ‎Byun Hee-bong in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Did working on “Okja” affect the way you felt about animal-rights groups, how GMOs are used, and the corporate responsibility of the food industry?

Collins: I’ve always been weirdly interested in food documentaries. During the prep for this movie, I watched more. Director Bong gave us this ALF [Animal Liberation Front] handbook. I saw this really difficult images of animals and their treatment and the facilities. I’m not a red-meat eater anyway, so it wasn’t necessarily that I changed my food habits or eating habits, but I definitely became more of a conscious consumer in many other types of products.

I think the great thing about this film is that it speaks to so many different types of themes—nutrition, environment, politics, love, innocence lost. There’s just so many different things to be taken from this film that are dealt in a way that never tutorialize but always prompt conversation. I feel like what Director Bong is so amazing at is taking so many different things and presenting them to you—never telling you how to think, but if you leave the theater thinking something, then we’ve done our job right.

Yeun: I really enjoyed working with Director Bong mostly because he likes just to tell it to you how it is with all the gray. And so when you get to dive into something like the ALF, I know that we were playing a characterization of people who are really doing stuff like this. I feel like one thing it sheds a light on—at least for myself—is “Why does an individual sign up for something like this?”

And they’re all different, especially in our own [“Okja”] little subgroup of the ALF. Every single character had a different reason for being there or had different ethics that [made the individuals] willing to go farther or less than the other person next to them. It was an interesting study in that regard, because sometimes you see the ALF, as they intend, to be this giant, glob organization. But when you take apart the specific individuals who take part in something like this, it’s interesting to see that not all of interests necessarily align.

Paul Dano (second from right) in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

How did you reconcile that many of the protagonists in “Okja” condemn violence yet they use violent methods to achieve their goals?

Bong: There is definitely a level of contradiction in the ALF. Even in the film, the ALF [members] shout that they hate violence, but you can see throughout the film that they constantly inflict it. They have a very noble cause—you can understand the cause—but the film also portrays them to at times look foolish and making very human mistakes. They’re humans just like us.

Mirando isn’t a villainess in the pure sense. She has her flaws and fragilities … So whether that be people in the Mirando corporation or whether that be the ALF members, he wanted to embrace them within the boundaries of humanity where they make flaws and make human mistakes.

Dano: Just thinking about what Director Bong said, I was thinking how complicated it is to put a beautiful young girl in the middle of all that contradiction. It’s really one of the special things about the story. It’s a curious line between somebody like [my
Okja” character\ Jay and somebody like Lucy. Jay’s cause seems a lot nobler, but I think we believe in our own causes to the extent that it causes us to do something we don’t want to do, and often without knowing it or being able to justify it or look the other.

I like that the film, even though it has many topical issues, I don’t think it’s really preaching. It’s too complicated for that. Mija eats chicken stew, but she catches a little fish and thrown the fish back in [the water]. That’s such an important detail for this film to be true. And even though it has a fantasy-animation-graphic-novel sort of level to it, I like the truth in the contradictions.

Tilda Swinton and An Seo Hyun in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

To the actors, what was your initial response when you read the “Okja” script?

Collins: Finally! Here’s something so bizarre and great. The tag line is about a little girl who goes after her best friend that’s a pig. To be able to play a small part in such a big message is something I jumped at the chance to be a part of. My first meeting with Director Bong was at 11 a.m., and he orders ice cream and starts talking about this pig.

And I was like, “Okay, I think I know what I’m signing on for.” I fell in love with the idea that he could see me as this character. And I don’t think a lot of people would be able to see as someone like this, but it’s so much a love story and a drama and a comedy and an action movie and a fantasy movie. It’s kind of everything you wanted to see in one movie. It was a moment of enlightenment when I read it.

Esposito: For me, in many ways, it was a return to innocence. It’s odd for me to say, having played Frank Dawson, but this story is absolutely beautiful in its very connected relationship message. It doesn’t matter what that relationship is. It could be a child with their goldfish in a tank who is their best friend, or it could be Okja.

But that warmth, that sensitivity and that understanding that’s developed in that relationship, for me, guided me back to think about my loss of innocence. When did I grow up? And how can I un-learn that growing up and see the world in a new light? Many times, we are so smart that we are ignorant. And they say that education is learned ignorance. We as performers fantasize about telling our stories that will make a social comment or political comment or artistic comment are gifted with the ultimate gift: to be able to remain somewhere in our heart and soul that beautiful child that Mija is.

Swinton: I didn’t read the script for a long time because I was part of the cloud of the idea before it ever came to script stage. And I remember very clearly when we went to Seoul for the premiere of “Snowpiercer,” he drove us to the airport the next day and leaned over the seat of the car and showed me this drawing of a pig and a girl. And that was it. That was about three years before there was a script.

But even before that moment, I have to say it was one of the things Director Bong and I share is a love for the great director Hayao Miyazaki—in particular, “My Neighbor Totoro.” In fact, we regularly sing “Totoro” tunes. And so the second I saw the story, I saw that, and I saw an opportunity to fill to that homage. But also, we talked about the twin sisters in “Spirited Away,” which I think was a seed of the Mirando sisters. I was in before [the script] existed. Put it that way.

An Seo Hyun in “Okja” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Do you think people will find the Okja creature adorable beyond the film?

Esposito: Okja dolls! Okja pillows!

Swinton: I think young children will be asking their parents, “Where are Okja reservations? Is there are Okja [section] in zoos?” They’ll be looking on Wikipedia for an Okja page.

Bong: Our visual-effects supervisor Erik-Jan De Boer did such a wonderful job. It looks so real in the movie. I was very happy reactions from some people. I wish I had an Okja in my house. I worked with Erik for over a year, striving for realism. With a cartoonish character, you can’t really draw from those kinds of emotions. We have to look at something realistic.

Swinton: Mija has such a sensual relationship with Okja. Don’t we all want to fall asleep on Okja’s belly? It’s really a feeling of physical comfort.