Today considered one of the best films of all time, Federico Fellini’s magnum opus was probably destined for the Palme d’Or regardless of the shenanigans surrounding its Cannes premiere. Still, it didn’t hurt when the Catholic Church denounced the movie for its loose morals and subversive attitude, thus making La Dolce Vita the hottest ticket on the Croisette.
There really isn’t anything quite like the Cannes Film Festival. Each May, the movie world collapses on the French Riviera for a fortnight that feels like a cross between film school and a James Bond movie. The parties are on yachts, the critics are in tuxedos, and the most revered auteurs from every corner of the map premiere their latest works amid a flashing mob of paparazzi. It’s a perfect storm of high art and low culture, and—for better or worse—it makes for viewing conditions unlike those of any fest. Sometimes that means epic standing ovations, and sometimes that means people standing up and denouncing a major director as soon as the credits roll. It’s no surprise that Cannes has seen more brouhahas, dust-ups and finger-wagging than any other festival on Earth, and the biggest shockers of all are often saved for the awards ceremony on closing night. As this year’s edition kicks off, we take a look at the 10 most controversial winners in the history of the fest.
RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the Cannes Film Festival