Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated as of May 2022.
No event is more committed to advocating for film to be seen as a legitimate art form than the Cannes Film Festival. From its highly selective programming that highlights of some of the boldest visionaries in the world, to its audiences who carefully guard the festival’s reputation, Cannes is a true bastion of cinema.
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But that combination of bold programming and passionate audiences comes with a cost. Polarizing films are frequently met with choruses of boos after they premiere, either as a result of poor reception, offensive subject matter, or a beloved director falling short of high expectations. Booing even helps the festival’s mission of legitimizing cinema as an art form, because the negative reactions to certain films make the positive reactions mean more.
For many great filmmakers, being booed at Cannes is a rite of passage. The reaction does not always mean a film was bad — to the contrary, many booed films have gone on to win the Palme d’Or. From Italian neorealist classics to beloved Quentin Tarantino films, we’ve rounded up 45 films that polarized audiences on the Croisette.
William Earl contributed to this story.
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