Controversies galore at Cannes Film Festival 2023, but these are nothing new | Hollywood - Hindustan Times
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Johnny Depp's Jeanne de Barry to Catherine Corsini's Homecoming: Controversies galore at Cannes Film Festival 2023

May 13, 2023 09:55 AM IST

Controversies at Cannes are nothing new. Here's a look at some of them this year, from the opening film, Johnny Depp's Jeanne de Barry, to Homecoming.

The 1968 edition of the Cannes Film Festival had to pull its curtains down when Francois Truffaut and other important directors protested against holding the 12-day event in the face of serious strikes by workers and students. This year's festival, set to roll on May 16, will also be against a backdrop of social unrest. Apart from the pension agitations and the US writers' strike, there has been a lot of drama. Also read: Anushka Sharma to make her Cannes Film Festival debut

Johnny Depp-starrer Jeanne de Barry directed by Maïwenn is the opening film at the 2023 Cannes International Film Festival.
Johnny Depp-starrer Jeanne de Barry directed by Maïwenn is the opening film at the 2023 Cannes International Film Festival.

The opening film, Johnny Depp's Jeanne de Barry in which he plays King Louis XV, has raised a controversy. There has been criticism about giving this slot to the movie. Depp's legal battles against his former wife, Amber Heard, is the pivotal issue. Depp won on three counts and was awarded more than $10 million in damages. Heard got $2 million on one count. But the court cases were messy affairs, and besides this the Jeanne de Barry's director, Maiwenn, was sued by a top French journalist for reportedly attacking him in a posh restaurant.

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The Festival General-Delegate. Thierry Fremaux, told Variety, “It was not a controversial choice. If Johnny Depp had been banned from working it would have been different, but that’s not the case. We only know one thing, it’s the justice system and I think he won the legal case”.

Fremaux also said a complaint of “assault against Maïwenn by high-profile journalist Edwy Plenel would not affect the film’s participation at Cannes. This has nothing to do with the Festival, especially since we learned of the existence of this complaint after announcing Jeanne du Barry at the opening of Cannes.”

And, then the addition of Catherine Corsini's Homecoming in competition sparked yet another controversy. Reports of on-set harassment of crew members were hotly denied by her. The director was also accused of using minors without relevant approvals.

These have now died down, but once the Festival begins, they are bound to resurface.

Again, Woody Allen's new work, a crime romance, Coup de Chance, would not be part of the Festival. This may be because he too has been in the midst of terrible controversies.

In a interview with Le Figaro, Fremaux said that, despite seeing it, he had not “selected Allen’s new work, a French-language crime romance called Coup de Chance, in part because we know that if his movie is shown at Cannes, the controversy would take over, against his films, against the other movies”. However, Fremaux said the film “was not a candidate”.

Allen has been a Cannes regular. In 2016, he screened his period comedy, Cafe Society. Despite, a wide and marvellous basket of work, he has had problems. Following the allegations by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, that he sexually abused her, his deal with Amazon collapsed in 2018. He was to have directed four movies for them.

His memoir, Apropos of Nothing, was dropped by Hachette publishers, but was picked by Arcade later in 2020. Allen has consistently denied this allegation.

Another controversial helmer, Roman Polanski's new title, The Palace, set on New Year’s Eve in 1999, and starring Fanny Ardant, John Cleese and German actor Oliver Masucci, will also not be at Cannes this year. He was last seen at the Festival with his erotic drama Venus in Fur.

But a much larger question is whether the threats to darken Cannes during the Festival by the electricity workers protesting against the French law that has raised the retirement age from 60 to 62 will hit the Festival. The Festival says that plans are in place to counter this.

Finally, stars like Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard and Isabelle Adjani would use the Red Carpet to talk about women's freedom in Iran, and Tehran's refusal to let director Mohammad Rasoulof to travel to Cannes. He was to have been part of the Un Certain Regard.

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