Controversy and celebrity at Cannes Film Festival

Global gathering on French Riviera remains picture-perfect despite off-screen drama

Attracting filmmakers and stars from across the globe, the Cannes Film Festival is a feast of cinematic wonder and celebrity photo ops.

The French Riviera resort went as far as to ban any demonstrations along the iconic Boulevard de la Croisette this week, to ensure the event wouldn’t be marred by the torrent of public protests that have gripped France in recent weeks.

Still, that’s done little to deter campaigners and trade union members. A “rally of hospitality workers” is expected to take place tomorrow afternoon in front of the Carlton hotel, and there is a “large demonstration” planned for Sunday, said Variety.

Civic unrest aside, there’s been enough pageantry and controversy at the prestigious festival to keep fans and photographers enthralled by the event’s off-screen action.

“Still bruised from an ugly legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard and struggling to repair his damaged reputation”, Johnny Depp “strolled into Cannes like a conquering hero”, said The Guardian. He was met with a standing ovation.

The actor’s critics have accused the festival’s organisers “of effectively handing a free pass to an alleged domestic abuser”, said the paper. But the controversy surrounding his presence and starring role in Maïwenn Le Besco’s “Jeanne du Barry” seems to be of little concern to Depp, who said yesterday: “I don’t have much further need for Hollywood myself”, said the i news site.

The festival’s line-up “could only be described as ridiculously stacked”, said The Telegraph’s film critic Tim Robey. The 76-year-old event is “doffing its battered fedora to several even older legends”, including Harrison Ford, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. There’s also “endless potential for gems to emerge from currently lesser lights”.

And for those more interested in the fashion than the films, Cannes offers a “spectacle on par with the Oscars and Met Gala”, said Vogue. With “one of the most lavish step and repeats in the world”, this year’s festival promises to add another chapter to Cannes’ long history of “delivering spellbinding style moments”.

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Julia O'Driscoll is the engagement editor. She covers UK and world news, as well as writing lifestyle and travel features. She regularly appears on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast, and hosted The Week's short-form documentary podcast, “The Overview”. Julia was previously the content and social media editor at sustainability consultancy Eco-Age, where she interviewed prominent voices in sustainable fashion and climate movements. She has a master's in liberal arts from Bristol University, and spent a year studying at Charles University in Prague.