Read any list of the best movies at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and it’s more than likely you’ll find Gaspar Noé’s “Climax” listed among the best titles the festival and its sidebar sections had to offer this year. IndieWire raved the movie was Noé’s best film to date, and critical buzz was so strong A24 picked up the title for U.S. distribution. Ironically, “Climax” wasn’t included in this year’s official competition for the Palme d’Or, nor was it a member of Cannes’ official selection. The film premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar.
Fortunately, Noé harbors no ill will towards Cannes for leaving him out of its official selection in 2018. Quite the contrary, as the filmmaker told The Guardian that he was overjoyed to debut his latest film in Directors’ Fortnight, where it didn’t have the glaring spotlight and pressure that Cannes’ Palme d’Or contenders receive when they premiere. Noé admitted he wouldn’t have been an awards contender either even if he was in competition because the jury’s tastes and his own wouldn’t have gone well together.
“I wouldn’t have won anything anyway,” Noé said. “This year’s jury is so moralistic and consensual.”
The 2018 Cannes jury was led by Cate Blanchett and featured members Chang Chen, Ava DuVernay, Robert Guédiguian, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Denis Villeneuve, and Andrey Zvyagintsev. The group awarded the Palme d’Or to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s family drama “Shoplifters,” with the Grand Prix going to Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” and the Jury Prize going to Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum.”
Noé missed out on the Palme, but he did win the Art Cinema Prize in Directors’ Fortnight, which is considered to be the sidebar’s highest honor. The director is still shocked his film became one of Cannes’ most talked-about hits. Similar to Lars von Trier, Noé’s films are often controversy starters for featuring graphic violence and nudity, but everyone agreed “Climax” was a change of course.
“I must be doing something wrong,” Noé said, making light of the fact that his new film earned universal acclaim. “I have to take a long holiday and rethink my career.” When The Guardian reporter Xan Brooks mentioned that only six or seven people walked out of his “Climax” screening, the director responded, “Aw man, no, no, no! I usually have 25% of the audience walking out.”
A24 will release “Climax” later this year.