Cannes Kicks Off With Michael Douglas Honor, Catherine Deneuve Tribute To Ukraine & Johnny Depp’s ‘Jeanne Du Barry’

The Cannes Film Festival officially kicked off Tuesday night with Michael Douglas receiving an honorary Palme d’Or, and Catherine Deneuve making a surprise appearance during the opening ceremony — ahead of the world premiere screening of Maïwenn’s Johnny Depp-starrer Jeanne du Barry, arguably one of the hottest tickets on the Croisette. The film received a standing ovation of a touch over four minutes later in the evening.

Chiara Mastroianni hosted the festivities, introducing the Ruben Ostlund-led jury, and noting that Cannes was created out of “an act of resistance” and that “the power of cinema has never let us down.”

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Ostlund praised the communal experience of cinema, quipping that on television in his native Sweden, “The only thing we watch together is Eurovision.” The two-time Palme d’Or winner continued, “Just the fact that someone is sitting next you in the cinema and might turn to you and ask what do you think… I think it’s very important that we have one of these rooms where we are closely seeing the content that we are watching… That’s the great selling point of the cinema — we watch things together and I’m looking forward to watching the films (with the jury) and having great, deep conversations.”

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Mastroianni then introduced Uma Thurman to present Douglas with the honorary Palme. After Douglas’ highlights reel rolled, he was given a standing ovation and exclaimed from the stage, “What a hug!” He added, “I’m older now… you represent our second generation very well.”

“There’s only one Cannes,” he continued, “I’m older than the festival!”

Douglas waxed nostalgic about his “foundations,” from working in an ensemble on new plays in Connecticut in his youth to the four years he spent on TV police drama The Streets of San Francisco alongside Karl Malden, and the indelible influence of his own father, Kirk Douglas, and his “strength, stamina and heart.” Said Douglas tonight, “To the public, he was Superman, but to me he was my father.”

Turning back to the fest itself, Douglas noted that he had recently been reminded of “the important role France played in the creation of my country 250 years ago.” Choking up a bit, he said (in French), “I embrace you with all my heart.”

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Mastroianni then introduced her mother, Catherine Deneuve, who is a symbol of this year’s Cannes as the face of the official poster, and who paid homage to Ukraine emotionally quoting the poet Lessia Oukraïnka, before declaring the 76th Cannes Film Festival officially open.

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