From Gaga to Shia: 10 Biggest Stories at the Cannes Film Festival

As the 69th Cannes Film Festival draws to a close, here’s a look back at some of the biggest scandals, trends and other worthwhile tales from the Croisette.

Ken Loach Wins Another Palme d’Or
Ken Loach can now boast a rare distinction among filmmakers–more than one Palme d’Or trophy. The director’s “I, Daniel Blake” picked up the top prize at Sunday’s closing ceremony, following his 2006 victory for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” The win also marked a great day for IFC Films, whose sister label Sundance Selects acquired the movie about a disabled carpenter (Dave Johns) trying to hold on to his British welfare benefits.

“American Honey” Soars
Andrea Arnold’s drama about a group of kids hustling for money on a road trip across the country was another beloved English-language movie to premiere at Cannes this year, and it took home the jury prize. Even more impressive: Arnold somehow convinced her lead actor Shia LaBeouf to act normal in interviews.

Dionne Warwick vs. Lady Gaga
Only in Cannes could a biopic about Dionne Warwick dominate so many headlines. First, Warwick announced at a press conference that Lady Gaga was set to co-star as her “arch nemesis,” the English singer Cilla Black. Then Gaga’s rep issued a statement, saying she will not be in the movie and had never been attached. When approached by Variety, Warwick didn’t seem concerned about the back-and-forth. “Actually, it’s just a little glitch,” she said. “It will be corrected very soon.”

Barefoot Stars
After last year’s controversy about no flats on the red carpet (and charges of sexism), A-listers decided to kick off their shoes entirely as a sign of protest. Kristen Stewart was spotted carrying her Louboutins outside the Palais, and later changed into denim sneakers for the premiere of “Personal Shopper.” Julia Roberts went barefoot for “Money Monster,” and Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis did the same at Kering’s Women in Motion dinner on May 15.

Let’s Not Make a Deal
The market was very cold, with only two big sales out of the festival: Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” (which sold international rights to STX Entertainment for $50 million) and Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut “Molly’s Game” ($9 million to STX). At a time when most indie movies are struggling at the box office, many buyers griped that the packages for sale at Cannes were too risky or not commercial enough. This follows a trend from the last Toronto and Sundance, where after a few bidding wars erupted, distributors played it safe with their checkbooks.

A Tough Time for Woody Allen
Amazon Studios might be rethinking their marketing strategy for “Café Society” after Woody Allen found himself in the middle of numerous Cannes controversies. The festival’s opening night emcee, Laurent Lafitte, shocked with a rape joke that seemed to be targeted at the director. (“I am completely in favor of comedians making any jokes they want,” Allen later told Variety about the incident.) His son Ronan Farrow wrote a guest column about how the media didn’t take seriously the sexual abuse allegations by his sister Dylan against their father. And Sarandon said of Allen at a Variety event: “I think he sexually abused a child and I don’t think that’s right.”

High Alert
Following the Brussels terrorism attacks, security in Cannes had never been tighter. Not only were the never-ending lines outside the Palais slower than usual (as the tux-and-ballroom crowd passed through two security checkpoints), visitors had to endure TSA-like searches just to enter hotels and parties.

“The BFG” Disappoints
The sluggish pace of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1982 book led to dozens of people to flee the press screening. The audience was mixed at the premiere too — complaining that the Disney project was really only targeted to young children.

Big Directors Bomb
It was a weak year for the movies playing in competition. Audiences not only booed Sean Penn’s drama “The Last Face,” but critics also hated Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World” (which won the Grand Prix and Ecumenical Jury prizes) and Nicolas Refn’s “Neon Demon,” a horror satire about the modeling industry that felt less like “Drive” and more like “Only God Forgives.”

Leonardo DiCaprio Stays Up Late for Katy Perry
Perry was the headliner at the annual amfAR Cinema Against AIDS auction at the Hotel du Cap, but the event stretched so late that she didn’t take the stage until 1 a.m. Nevertheless, the Euro-glam crowd got on their feet for a set of her greatest hits from “I Kissed a Girl” to “Firework.” After she took a bow, DiCaprio was still in the house — proving that in Cannes, not even movie stars get any sleep.

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