Thierry Fremaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, has defended the decision to open this year’s event with Jeanne du Barry starring Johnny Depp.
Directed by French filmmaker Maïwenn, the biographical drama follows the life of Jeanne du Barry (played by Maïwenn), who climbed the social hierarchy to become the last royal mistress of King Louis XV (Depp).
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The film marks Depp’s first feature performance in three years, and comes after the actor won his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard last year.
Asked by Variety about the “controversial choice” to open the festival with the actor’s comeback, Fremaux said: “I don’t see Maïwenn’s film as a controversial choice at all, because 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. But the movie isn’t about Johnny Depp.”
Jeanne du Barry will open the festival on May 16, before it is released in cinemas in France on the same day. Others in the cast include Pierre Richard, Noemie Lvovsky, Benjamin Lavernhe and Melvil Poupaud.
Films competing for the Cannes Film Festival’s main Palme d’Or prize include Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone Of Interest, May December from Todd Haynes and Jessica Hausner’s Club Zero.
Outside of the competition, Martin Scorsese’s next film Killers Of The Flower Moon and Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny will also premiere at the festival.
The 2023 Cannes Film Festival takes place from May 16-27.