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The Hollywood Insider Cannes Film Festival 2024

The legendary body horror director David Cronenberg’s new film ‘The Shrouds’ or ‘Les Inceuls’ pat the lauded Cannes Film Festival shortly. Longtime Cronenberg fans and newcomers alike are excited to catch the first official reviews of Cronenberg’s cinema. However, Cronenberg himself does not quite match the same level of enthusiasm as some of his fans for the upcoming festival screening of his new film. Cronenberg himself is no stranger to walkouts at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1996, Cronenberg’s now-cult classic ‘Crash’ premiered at the premier festival and was hailed not with the applause it very well might have deserved but instead with walkouts as people were disgusted with the rampant sex and nudity present throughout the film. This is also not a problem that Cronenberg alone has faced. Many icons in the film community, including the likes of David Lynch and Lars von Trier with their films ‘Wild at Heart’ and ‘The House that Jack Built’, respectively, along with others from Lars von Trier, have had to deal with the same problems at Cannes as Cronenberg. Indeed, every year there are many walkouts at the Cannes Film Festival for one reason or another having to do with the film being shown. One may go as far as to argue that the festival itself has slowly become synonymous with the two ends of the film reception spectrum, in particular, walkouts and boos or standing ovations, which at times last far longer than they should. As a result, there is no question as to why the art of the walkout is considered a staple at the Cannes Film Festival. 

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Should the Cannes team do anything about the walkouts and boos, which have started to become a continuous event at their festival every year without fail?

The short answer is yes. Walkouts, or other public displays of indecency, including booing, are not only extremely disrespectful of the cast and crew who spent at times years working on some of these projects, but they also demean the Cannes Film Festival as a whole and bring it down to the same level as every other festival out there. This should not be Cannes’ mission or desire. A festival that sits at Cannes’ level should do anything in its power to keep itself there, and not actively discouraging something as disrespectful as walkouts is not the avenue for keeping that power. Cannes is a very special film festival, and the Palme d’Or is an extremely special award. Both of these things hold a very elegant significance, which may be put in jeopardy by such discourteous behavior as walkouts and boos. Such a public display of dislike and disgust should not be disregarded at a festival with as much glamor and prestige as Cannes. 

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Instead, Cannes should encourage these disgruntled journalists and patrons alike to channel their anger into their reviews of the films that they saw and experienced at Cannes. While this may not hold the same zeal as publicly displaying one’s disgust on the stage of the biggest film festival in the entire world, acting in such a way preserves the distinction that the name Cannes holds and also prevents the public shaming of someone’s work. In addition to this, Cannes should discourage this behavior because many times these actions are performed with blatant inaccuracy. Expanding on this, one may view Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film ‘Taxi Driver’. ‘Taxi Driver’ is a film that masterfully depicts the effects of violence on society and includes arguably one of the greatest performances ever put to film by the great Robert De Niro. This film is one of America’s greatest offerings to the cornucopia of world cinema and is undoubtedly one of the greatest American films ever made.


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However, at the Cannes Film Festival, many decided to greet the film’s decidedly brutal finale with boos and walkouts. This, along with many other examples, including Leo Carax’s ‘Holy Motors’ and Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’, demonstrate how at times the films that elicit boos, walkouts, or both are simply unworthy of such a treatment. ‘The Tree of Life’ and ‘Taxi Driver’ both went on to win the Palme d’Or, and ‘Holy Motors’ is widely known in the film community as a fantastical masterpiece. As a result of this, the act of walking out or yelling boos at the screen can, at times, not even be defended by the fact that the film being walked out of or booed is poorly made. Cannes attendees are often objectively incorrect with their sentiments towards various films as they boo or walk out of them. Because of this and other reasons mentioned previously, Cannes should do whatever it can to prohibit things like this from happening in future festivals, as booing or walkouting of films is not only extremely disrespectful but also occasionally done incorrectly if it has to be done at all. 

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The 2024 Cannes Film Festival and the many Cannes festivals that will come in the future and the changes that can and should be made to these prestigious events

The prevalence of Cannes walkouts and boos has gotten alarmingly high. Since this practice started, Cannes has only seen it continue throughout its 76 previous festivals, leading up to the 77th festival, which is currently ongoing. However, Cannes should look at next year, the 78th Cannes Film Festival, as a new opportunity to start different trends in the realm of Cannes screenings. That could finally be the year where there are fewer walkouts and more of simply the presence or lack of presence of applause, or another custom, to determine a film’s reception at the festival. There is no need for such a disrespectful practice to be so relevant at a film festival with as much dignity and respect attached to its name as the Cannes Film Festival. Cannes should put its foot down on walkouts and push forward to a new era filled with only the celebration of the creation of the film. 

By Nathaniel Lee

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