Creative freedom is what Khondji puts the biggest premium on, and he becomes dismayed talking about two projects he’s worked on – he won’t name names, but one assumes he’s referring to Harvey Weinstein’s interference on James Gray’s previous two films – where distributors become involved in the film. Khondji says the experience scarred him so badly that he very consciously made smaller films where the director was assured freedom.
It was in enjoying the jubilant and uninhibited collaboration with Bong that Khondji says his opinion changed about Netflix.
“I want to work with a great director with creative freedom, not with directors that are being told by the studio ‘okay, you can’t cast this person, you have to cut here, this is not the right ending,'” said Khondji. “Working with Bong, realizing we are filmmakers and we make cinema and cinema is in constant mutation. So it’s projected on the screen, it’s shown on the TV, or the phone, I think we should go beyond that, beyond all these things and just make films.”
Khondji has not only gotten past his objections, he says he’d work with Netflix again and chastised the people booing and protesting over the Netflix films being allowed to screen at Cannes.
“I think people are missing the point here in France,” said Khondji. “After all this bullshitting around, I don’t get it. I know I shot a movie that I love and I want to do more movies like that. Once I accepted what the world of making images is today, the modernity of today, it would be crazy to think we are back 20 years ago. People have to evolve.”
“Okja” premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. It will be released on Netflix on June 29.