Cannes Festival criticised for “supporting predators” after Johnny Depp appearance

The festival's director has once again defended the decision

Cannes Film Festival has received backlash after deciding to open this year’s instalment with Johnny Depp’s new film.

A social media campaign was launched earlier this week which accused the festival of “supporting predators” – it comes under the hashtag #CannesYouNot. The online opposition arose after the prestigious film festival was confirmed to be opening with Johnny Depp’s new film, Jeanne du Barry, this year.

The 2023 instalment — the 76th edition of the festival — kicked off yesterday (May 16), although was on the receiving end of backlash due to its inclusion of the Pirates Of The Caribbean actor. One of the main figures in the opposition is journalist and activist Eve Barlow, who called for the public to tell the festival to “stop supporting rapists”.


She spoke against the festival using the hashtag earlier this week (May 14). “Cannes seem proud of their history supporting rapists and abusers,” she wrote in the caption, sharing a series of photographs of men with accusations made against them.

The majority of these photographs were of Depp, and included quotes taken from his infamous trial following accusations of abuse from ex-wife Amber Heard. It also featured images of Roman Polanski, Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, Gerard Depardieu, and Luc Besson. “If you support Cannes you support predators,” read the text on the first image.

Back in 2019, French film director Luc Besson denied drugging and raping actress Sand Van Roy. The accusations against him were brought to a head when Van Roy told police that she was repeatedly raped by the 60-year-old director while in a relationship with him. Eight other women also came forward alleging that they were assaulted by the Léon director.

Besson denied all charges raised against him and allegations were later dismissed after being investigated in 2021.

Following the update by Barlow, numerous Twitter users came forward to speak out against the festival, many of which used the #CannesYouNot hashtag. Cannes has banned people from protesting at the event, meaning that the hashtag is considered an alternate way to speak out against the festival online.


Previously, the director of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Fremaux, defended his decision to include Depp and, in a new statement, added that he is not interested in his reputation following the court battle.

“I don’t know about the image of Johnny Depp in the US,” he said (via The Telegraph). “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.”

“If Johnny Depp had been banned from acting in a film, or the film was banned we wouldn’t be here talking about it,” he added. “If there’s one person in this world who didn’t find the least interest in this very publicised trial, it’s me. I don’t know what it’s about. I also care about Johnny Depp as an actor.”

The conflict between Depp and Heard was initiated in 2019, when Depp sued Heard for defamation, following a 2018 op-ed piece she had written for The Washington Post, claiming she was a victim of domestic abuse.

Johnny Depp and Maiwenn at Cannes Film Festival 2023
Johnny Depp and Maiwenn at Cannes Film Festival 2023. CREDIT: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

The Aquaman actress then countersued Depp the following year, and the case soon made headlines after it went to trial in 2022. In June of that year, a jury concluded that Heard had defamed Depp in the article.

In December, drawing the case to a close, it was reported that Heard would be made to pay her ex-husband $1million, significantly less than the $8.35million she was ordered to pay Depp in June.

In the UK libel case, while Depp was never accused of rape, he was found to have subjected her to violent domestic abuse. In the US case, however, her claims were found largely not to be true.

Jeanne du Barry, the film that opened this year’s Cannes Film Festival, marks Depp’s first role following the allegations. It features him as French monarch Louis XV and details his relationship with the famed royal mistress Madame du Barry, played by French actress Maïwenn.

In other news, yesterday (May 16), it was reported that Brie Larson was taken aback, after being asked if she’ll see Jeanne du Barry at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. In response to the question (via Variety), Larson replied: “You’re asking me that? I’m sorry, I don’t understand the correlation or why me specifically.”

When her position as a “vocal advocate for Time’s Up and MeToo” is raised, Larson replied: “You’ll see, I guess, if I will see it. And I don’t know how I’ll feel about it if I do.”

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