The Most Controversial Moments at the Cannes Film Festival

France’s Cannes Film Festival has seen its share of controversies since it started in 1946. Blame the Riviera sun or the filmmaking iconoclasts that gather on the red carpet each year, but various high jinks and bizarre publicity stunts have often dominated the festivities. Bold action isn’t always required to shake things up, however. Often times it’s just the movies themselves that cause a scene with audiences and the Cannes jury. With the current 66th annual festival underway, we wanted to take a look at ten of Cannes most controversial moments.


Lars and Hitler

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? While it’s no longer shocking to see Lars von Trier’s name pop up when controversies abound, the polarizing Danish director had the biggest foot-in-mouth moment during the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Von Trier made an uncomfortable comment about “sympathizing” with Hitler during a press conference with Kirsten Dunst to promote Melancholia:

“I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. I think I understand the man.”

A few awkward glances and nervous murmurs from the crowd later, Von Trier found himself banned from the festival, despite an official apology (several, actually). He was pursued by the French authorities for criminal charges, which were later dropped. Von Trier vowed to never make a public statement again and is absent at this year’s Cannes. Festival officials insist the filmmaker simply missed the deadline to submit his upcoming Nymphomaniac for consideration and that he’s not actually banned from the fest.

Several years before that, Von Trier’s Antichrist caused a stir amongst Cannes audiences, some who reportedly fainted from shock. The ecumenical jury called it “misogynist.”