Cannes was ready to celebrate French actor Alain Delon Sunday evening, but Sand Van Roy, the Belgian/Dutch actress who sued French director Luc Besson for rape last year, wanted to make sure the festival also got a message.
Van Roy, who starred in Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” walked onto the red carpet for the honorary Palme d’Or honor and screening of “Mr. Klein” with a large temporary tattoo spreading on her back reading “Stop Violence Against Women” with the #MeToo movement symbol. She told Variety that she was protesting because “the industry uses ‘art’ as an excuse to put itself above the law.” She added that “being indifferent is being an accomplice.”
The actress was referring to Delon’s own public comments in which he admitted to having slapped women in his life. Van Roy filed a lawsuit accusing Besson of rape last year, prompting the launch of a preliminary investigation which was eventually dropped in December for lack of evidence.
Although Delon has never been accused of domestic violence or of a crime, Cannes’s decision to honor him has been criticized by women’s rights advocates such as France’s Osez le Feminisme and Women and Hollywood in the U.S. In addition to his comment on slapping women, Delon also has opposed the adoption of children by same-sex parents and expressed sympathy with far-right politicians.
Earlier this week, a petition to have the festival rescind Delon’s honorary Palme d’Or circulated, garnered about 20,000 signatures. French reports also said that Salma Hayek’s appearance at the ceremony had been canceled because the celebration of Delon does not mesh well with her prominent role within the Me Too movement and as a gender equality activist.
Fremaux addressed the controversy during the press conference on the first day of the festival, downplaying it by saying, “(Cannes) is not giving Alain Delon the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Delon, meanwhile, said during his masterclass on Sunday that he owes his career to women who fought for him to become an actor, and reminisced about the early years of his career.
As part of his tribute, Delon presented the gala screening of Joseph Losey’s 1976 drama “Mr. Klein,” which highlighted discrimination against French Jews during WWII and their deportation to concentration camps.