Cannes Film Festival boss rejects claims that it’s a ‘festival for rapists’

Cannes Film Festival boss rejects claims that it’s a ‘festival for rapists’

Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux has heavily rejected claims that it’s a “festival for rapists”.

Last week, on 9 May, French actor Adèle Haenel, the star of the 2020 Cannes prize-winning film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, announced in an open letter that she was quitting the film industry for political reasons.

In it, she claimed Cannes was “ready to do anything to defend their rapist chiefs”, referring to industry bigwigs Roman Polanski, Gérard Depardieu and Dominique Boutonnat.

During a press conference ahead of its opening night, on Monday (15 May), Frémaux addressed Haenel’s “false” and “radical” comments.

“She didn’t think that when she came to Cannes unless she suffered from a crazy dissonance,” he argued. “People use Cannes to talk about certain issues and it’s normal because we give them a platform.”

Directly speaking to the press, Frémaux said: “But if you thought that it’s a festivals for rapists, you wouldn’t be here listening to me, you would not be complaining that you can’t get tickets to get into screenings.”

He then responded to criticism of French filmmaker Maïwenn’s film Jeanne Du Barry, starring Johnny Depp, opening the festival.

Johnny Depp in ‘Jeanne du Barry’ (Le Pacte)
Johnny Depp in ‘Jeanne du Barry’ (Le Pacte)

“I don’t know about the image of Johnny Depp in the US. To tell you the truth, in my life, I only have one rule, it’s the freedom of thinking, and the freedom of speech and acting within a legal framework,” Frémaux said.

“If Johnny Depp had been banned from acting in a film, or the film was banned we wouldn’t be here talking about it. So we saw Maïwenn film and it could have been in competition. She would have been the eighth female director.”

He explained that “this [controversy] came up once the film was announced at Cannes because everybody knew Johnny had made a film in France… I don’t know why she chose him but it’s a question you should ask Maïwenn”.

The film was shot around the time of Depp’s highly publicised trial with ex-wife Amber Heard.

Cannes Film Festival runs from 16 May to 27 May.