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The Cannes Film Festival’s Opening Ceremony: A Whiff of Scandal and a Lot of Emotion

Hosted by Chiara Mastroianni, actress and daughter of Catherine Deneuve, the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival 2023 took place this Tuesday, May 16, and featured both the much-anticipated arrival of Johnny Depp on the red carpet to promote Maïwenn’s new film, Jeanne du Barry, and the presentation of the honorary Palme d’Or to actor Michael Douglas in celebration of his extraordinary career.

For the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the opening ceremony had been eagerly awaited, and for good reason – this year, the ceremony was marked by a distinct whiff of scandal attending it. While Maïwenn’s film, Jeanne du Barry, had been chosen to open the ball for this new edition, the actress and director had gained some unwelcome publicity recently by admitting to having launched a physical attack on Edwy Plenel, journalist and publisher of the website Mediapart.

And as if that were not enough, the French media had taken malicious pleasure in circulating rumors of tension between the director and the film’s star, Johnny Depp, during the filming. Let’s not forget that the American actor was also under scrutiny since this was to be his official return to the spotlight after his highly publicized legal battles with his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard. “We stand by our choices!” said Thierry Frémaux, the director general of the Cannes Film Festival during his recent press conference with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Host Mastroianni announced that this year 68 films are to be presented in the official selection and will come from 27 countries. A moving tribute was paid to the President of the jury, Swedish director Ruben Östlund, double winner of the Palme d’Or, with The Square in 2017 and Triangle of Sadness in 2022, who did not fail to thank the four women and four men of the jury who will be by his side throughout the festival to judge the films in competition: directors Julia Ducournau and Myriam Touzani, actresses Brie Larson and Rungano Nyoni, actors Denis Ménochet and Paul Dano, writer Atiq Rahimi and director Damián Szifrón, who were applauded by the audience of more than 2,000 people.


But the moment of deepest emotion was undoubtedly when Michael Douglas received the honorary Palme d’or, presented to him by Uma Thurman. “It touches me a lot,” said the 78-year-old actor, before joking, “I’m even older than the festival!”


Catherine Deneuve was then responsible for officially announcing the opening of the Festival, after being called to order by her daughter, who told her that she had forgotten to say something while she was delivering a message of support for Ukraine.

This lively opening set the stage for a festival which promises to be of particularly good vintage, since, in addition to Johnny Depp, many other Hollywood stars are expected make an appearance p not only such as Martin Scorsese, Robert de Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, who will come to present Killers of the Flower Moon, but also Harrison Ford, publicizing the latest adventure of Indiana Jones, Pedro Almodóvar who will present his western Strange Way of Life out of competition, and Wes Anderson with the film Asteroid City, starring Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson, and finally the American director Todd Haynes with the film May December which unites Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore.

You read it here: we have a beautiful Festival to look forward to!