Film release poster
|Directed by||Bong Joon-ho|
|Story by||Bong Joon-ho|
|Music by||Jaeil Jung|
|Edited by||Yang Jin-mo|
|Box office||$2.1 million (limited theatrical release)|
Okja is a 2017 action-adventure film directed by Bong Joon-ho and written by Bong and Jon Ronson. The film stars an ensemble cast headed by South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun, alongside Hollywood actors Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
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In 2007, self-defined environmentalist Lucy Mirando becomes CEO of the Mirando Corporation, succeeding her controversial grandfather, her father and her cruel twin sister Nancy. She announces that they have been breeding a special kind of “super pig”. The twenty-six produced specimens are sent to as many farmers in different locations around the world, and ten years later, one of them will be crowned the winner of a competition to breed the best pig.
In 2017, a young girl named Mija lives in the countryside of South Korea with her grandfather and their super pig, Okja. They are visited by Mirando spokesperson and zoologist Dr. Johnny Wilcox, who declares Okja the best super pig and announces they will take her to New York City. Mija's grandfather presents her with a gold pig and explains to her that he saved up money to buy the solid gold item to replace Okja when she was taken away. Devastated, Mija runs away to Seoul to find Okja, where she sees her as she is being loaded onto a truck. Mija chases down the truck but it is intercepted by another truck, run by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). In the resulting chaos Mija and Okja run away but are eventually saved by the ALF, led by Jay. Recognizing that Mija is Okja's owner, Jay uses another ALF member, K, as a translator to tell Mija that their plan is to put a recording device in Okja's ear and let her be re-captured by the Mirando corporation to show how brutally they treat their animals. Mija tells them to return her to the mountains but K deliberately lies, leading the group to believe Mija is in agreement with their plan. They abandon her, and Okja is recaptured.
Meanwhile, footage of Okja and Mija running through the streets of Seoul has gone viral. To minimise the damage, Lucy pays for Mija to come to New York to be reunited onstage with her pig. Okja is taken to a laboratory in Paramus, New Jersey where she is forcibly bred with another super pig and bits of meat are extracted from her flesh for a taste test. Members of the ALF overhear the recording through the device they placed in Okja's ear. After the ALF see the forced breeding, K reveals he lied to the rest of the group about Mija's support of the plan in order to continue the mission. In response, Jay attacks K, and expels him from the ALF.
In New York City, Mija is forced to agree to the wishes of the Mirando corporation. Jay slips into her room and tells her that they still plan to rescue Okja while on stage. A parade is put on by the Mirando Corporation, who give out free meat in the street. Mija is reunited with Okja, who, blinded and battered, does not recognize her and attacks. In the resulting chaos, Jay tries to hurt Okja, but Mija prevents him from doing so, calming Okja down so that she recognizes Mija. A video of the mistreatment of Okja is screened by the ALF to the public, who quickly turn on the Mirando Corporation. Mija and the ALF attempt to escape with Okja but fail. Okja is recaptured and the ALF members are arrested. Nancy, having returned to control the company, closes the lab, scraps all of Lucy's promotional marketing, and starts full-time operations at their slaughterhouse. Jay and Mija are rescued by K, who had 'translations are sacred' tattooed on his arm.
Jay and K take Mija to find Okja in a mass slaughterhouse. The group search for Okja but are unable to find her until Mija sees her going up the ramp to the slaughterhouse. In order to save Okja, she runs through the killing plant and sees many dead super pigs. Mija sees Okja as she is about to be slaughtered and shows the Mirando employee a photograph of herself with a baby Okja. Nancy arrives and tells Mija that Okja must be slaughtered. Mija offers the golden pig to Nancy in exchange for Okja's life. Nancy agrees to the deal whilst subsequently having Jay and K arrested. As Mija and Okja are leaving, they see many more pigs being led to slaughter. A pair of superpigs manages to push their newborn through the fence, and Okja hides it within her mouth to take it away.
Back in the countryside, Mija resumes her life with her grandfather, Okja, and the new piglet. In a post-credits scene, Jay is released from prison and gets on board a bus with K and the other members of the organization. With their newest member Kim Woo-shik, a former driver for Mirando Corporation, they plan to disrupt a major meeting involving all of the Mirando shareholders.
- Ahn Seo-hyun as Mija, a young farmgirl who takes care of Okja.
- Tilda Swinton as Lucy Mirando, the eccentric powerful CEO of the Mirando Corporation looking to profit from Okja.
- Swinton also plays Nancy Mirando, Lucy's twin sister, the cruel former CEO of the Mirando Corporation.
- Paul Dano as Jay, the leader of an animal-rights activist group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
- Jake Gyllenhaal as Johnny Wilcox, a disturbed zoologist and TV personality.
- Byun Hee-bong as Heebong, Mija's grandfather.
- Steven Yeun as K, an animal-rights activist and ALF member, who serves as translator between Mija and the rest of the ALF.
- Lily Collins as Red, an animal-rights activist and ALF member.
- Yoon Je-moon as Mundo Park
- Shirley Henderson as Jennifer, Lucy's assistant.
- Daniel Henshall as Blond, animal-rights activist, ALF member, and boyfriend of Silver.
- Devon Bostick as Silver, animal-rights activist, ALF member, and boyfriend of Blond.
- Choi Woo-shik as Kim Woo-shik, a young driver for the Mirando Corporation.
- Giancarlo Esposito as Frank Dawson, an associate with the Mirando Corporation.
- Choi Hee-seo as Interpreter
Development and production
In October 2015, it was announced that director Bong Joon-ho's next film will feature a South Korean female lead and a cast of English-speaking supporting actors, with filming set in New York. On November 10, 2015 it was picked up by Netflix and Plan B Entertainment with a budget of $50 million, with production starting in late 2016 for release in 2017. Darius Khondji joined the film as cinematographer in February 2016.
Bong sought out Welsh author Jon Ronson to help with the script. Working with a rough draft of the story, Ronson helped develop the English-speaking characters.
Principal photography began on April 22, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea. It moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for more filming on July 31, 2016. Director Bong Joon-ho visited a real Colorado slaughterhouse to prepare for the film's own slaughterhouse sequence, an experience that converted Joon-ho and producer Dooho Choi into temporary vegans.
Joon-ho has called Okja "a very shy and introverted animal. It's a unique animal that we've not seen before."
Okja had its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2017. During the first few minutes of its screening at its Cannes premiere, the film was met with boos mixed with some applause twice: once when the Netflix logo appeared on the screen and again during a technical glitch which projected the film in an incorrect aspect ratio for its first seven minutes. The festival later issued an apology to its filmmakers for projecting the film incorrectly. However, despite the initially negative audience response, the film received a four-minute standing ovation at its end.
On the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 194 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Okja sees Bong Joon-ho continuing to create defiantly eclectic entertainment – and still hitting more than enough of his narrative targets in the midst of a tricky tonal juggling act." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|Year||Award||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|2017||70th Cannes Film Festival||Palme d'Or||Bong Joon-ho||Nominated|
|2018||Saturn Awards||Best Television Presentation||Okja||Nominated|||
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- Evry, Max (April 22, 2016). "Okja Begins Filming with Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
- "Bong Joon Ho's Okja Starts Filming with Tilda Swinton". Collider. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
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- Kohn, Eric (June 7, 2017). "'Okja': How One Visit to a Slaughterhouse Turned Bong Joon Ho Into a Vegan". IndieWire. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
- "Okja: exclusive images from Netflix's 2017 thriller starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal - NME". NME. December 22, 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
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- Lang, Brent (May 19, 2017). "Cannes Apologizes For 'Okja' Screening Technical Glitches". Variety. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Ryan, Patrick (May 19, 2017). "Cannes: Netflix's controversial 'Okja' gets booed for technical snafu". USA Today. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Waxman, Sharon; Pond, Steve (May 19, 2017). "Netflix's 'Okja' Booed at First Press Screening in Cannes". The Wrap. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Mumford, Gwilym (May 19, 2017). "Cannes apologises after technical problems and booing disrupts Netflix film Okja". The Guardian. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
- Gardner, Chris (May 19, 2017). "Cannes: Netflix's 'Okja' Premiere Gets Four-Minute Standing Ovation After Press Screening Snafu". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- "First Teaser for Bong Joon-ho's Okja, Coming to Netflix". ComingSoon.net. February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
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- Scott, A. O. (2017-06-27). "Review: In 'Okja,' a Girl and Her Pig Take on the Food Industrial Complex". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
- McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.