Wonderstruck: Director Todd Haynes Defends Amazon

Director Todd Haynes, whose new film, Wonderstruck, world premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Fest, defended Amazon in a press conference on Thursday, claiming the streaming service was as interested in the big-screen movie experience as he was.

Asked about the debate over Netflix’s role at Cannes, Haynes deflected the conversation to Amazon, which backed his Cannes competition entry “Wonderstruck” alongside Roadside Attractions.

“The film division at Amazon is made up of true cineastes who love movies and really want to try and provide opportunity for independent film visions to find their footing in a vastly shifting market,” Haynes told reporters at the press conference. “They love cinema.”

He said that Amazon is behind the vision for films such as “Wonderstruck,” which are meant for theaters. “This was always about the experience of seeing something on the big screen, and I think that’s something Amazon is as committed to as we are,” Haynes said.

His defense of Amazon came a day after Will Smith and Pedro Almodovar, members of the Cannes jury, clashed over Netflix at the festival’s opening-day news conference.

Two of the movie’s three child actors attended the news conference, including deaf newcomer Millicent Simmonds, who signed an emotional tribute to Haynes and the team, and Jaden Michael, who fought back tears when talking about the experience of making the movie.

Star Julianne Moore spoke about working with Haynes for the fourth time. “He’s much meaner,” she joked. “You don’t have to do anything in Todd’s movies — he’s done it all for you. He’s set it up technically, cinematically, linguistically; all you have to do is enter the world.”

Haynes said “Julianne understood this almost unimaginable character on the page and brought a dimension to it I was still feeling out, a specificity and clarity, and made the film work.”

Haynes’ seventh feature is based upon a 2011 Brian Selznick illustrated children’s book. Selznick, who also wrote the book for Scorsese’s Oscar winning Hugo, penned the screenplay.

It is a “double period” film that follows two young protagonists in 1920s and 1970s New York and Minnesota as an interlinked mystery unfolds. The black-and-white 1920s sections are dialogue-free and contrast with full-color sections in Minnesota and New York, where the climax is set.