Cannes Film Fest Chief Swears He Doesn't Know What Johnny Depp's Defamation Trial Was About

Cannes Film Fest Chief Swears He Doesn't Know What Johnny Depp's Defamation Trial Was About

The head of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Fremaux, defended the inclusion of Johnny Depp's comeback move in this year's festival and rebuffed criticism from French actress Adele Haenel, who recently wrote that Cannes would "do anything to defend their rapist chiefs."

As Variety reports, Fremaux addressed the issues during a press conference ahead of the opening night of Cannes -- which will be led by the premiere of Depp's new movie, Jeanne du Barry. The movie -- directed by and co-starring Maiwenn -- marks Depp's first major project since his contentious legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard.

As such, the inclusion of Jeanne du Barry in Cannes has drawn some criticism, but Fremaux brushed it aside, telling reporters, "I don't know about the image of Johnny Depp in the U.S. 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."

Fremaux also insisted he was "the last person to be able to discuss" the trial, claiming, "If there's one person in this world who didn't find the least interest in this very publicized trial, it's me. I don't know what it's about. I also care about Johnny Depp as an actor."

He added: "If Johnny Depp had been banned from acting in a film, or the film was banned, we wouldn't be here talking about it. So we saw Maiwenn's film, and it could have been in competition. She would have been the eighth female director. This [controversy] came up once the film was announced at Cannes because everybody knew Johnny had made a film in France...I don't know why she chose him, but it's a question you should ask Maiwenn."

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(Maiwenn also recently found herself in some legal trouble after Edwy Plenel, the editor-in-chief of the French magazine Mediapart, sued her for assault. Plenel claimed Maiwenn came up to him at a restaurant and spit in his face after grabbing him by the hair.)

Fremaux was similarly curt when discussing the open letter issued last week by Adele Haenel, the celebrated star of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, who ditched film acting because of how prevalent sexism, sexual assault, racism, and other issues remain throughout the film industry (and many movies, too). In her letter, she called out the industry's continued support of several prominent figures who've faced accusations of sexual assault, abuse, and/or rape, including actor Gerard Depardieu, the president of France's National Film Board Dominique Boutonnat, and director Roman Polanski. (Haenel famously walked out of France's Cesar Awards in 2020 after Polanski won best director, shouting, "Bravo pedophilia!")


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Fremaux fired back, calling Haenel's comments "radical" and "false" and arguing "she didn't think that" when she appeared at Cannes 2019 in support of Portrait of a Lady on Fire "unless she suffered from a crazy dissonance."

Fremaux added, "But if you thought that it's a festivals for rapists, you wouldn't be here listening to me. You would not be complaining that you can't get tickets to get into screenings."