While premiering a film at the Cannes Film Festival is the dream for many directors, the audience reactions can never quite be predicted. Over the years, Cannes has been a harsh testing ground for even the most seasoned filmmakers, with many projects receiving a cold reception at the festival, only to be catapulted to cult status in time or lauded later that same year during awards season.
Usually, when an audience boos a work of art, it’s a bad sign; at Cannes, it’s a badge of honor. The 70-year-old festival has a longstanding tradition of press and industry vocalizing their frustrations with films as soon as the credits roll, but that outcome doesn’t always anticipate the movies’ future reception. Dozens of films booed at Cannes from revered auteurs such as Ingmar Bergman, David Lynch and Lars Von Trier went on to find appreciative audiences.
Sofia Coppola made a triumphant return to Cannes this year with “The Beguiled,” but she received a much harsher reception when “Marie Antoinette” opened to a chorus of boos in 2006. Just last year, Nicolas Winding Refn divided audiences with his lavish cautionary tale, “The Neon Demon.” And winning the coveted Palme d’Or doesn’t make directors impervious: In 1994, Quentin Tarantino was booed for “Pulp Fiction,” while Martin Scorsese felt the backlash when “Taxi Driver” won in 1976.
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On some level, the boos actually contribute to the films’ mythologies as compelling, provocative works of art. After all, consensus is boring. Cannes is all about the conversation, especially when things get down to the bone. Click on the photo above to see our list of the films, as well as the stories behind them.