Cannes Film Festival: why the 1991 Palme d’Or caused a huge scandal

While in theaters Without Filter, Palme d’Or at the last Cannes Film Festival, a look back at that of 1991 which caused a huge scandal on the Croisette. That year, the president of the jury was Roman Polanski. The selection is rather tempting with Van Gogh by Maurice Pialat with Jacques Dutronc, Europe by Lars Von Trier. But not for Polanski who groans.

After a week of screening, the filmmaker finds that all the films are useless and without any interest. And then, miracle, arrives that of the Coen brothers, Barton Fink. And there Polansky adore. For him, it is a masterpiece that deserves Palme d’Or. Except that the other jurors are not necessarily of this opinion. That they suspect a bit subjectively…

Because Barton Fink, the Coen brothers, made no secret of it, is a psychological thriller largely inspired by The Tenant, Repulsion and Cul de sac, three films by Roman Polanski. Giving the Palme d’Or to this film is a bit like attributing it to him, who has never had it yet. What will happen in 2002 for The pianist. Barton Fink eventually got the Palme d’Or.

Polanski got the jurors drunk

How did Polanski convince the jury? The day before the deliberation, he organized a small party with all the members of the jury. With unlimited champagne. And there, the Roman made all the jurors drink. Arrived at the end of the evening, he launches: “Why don’t we vote now for the Palme d’Or, eh it will be done. Anyway, we all agree huh? It’s Barton Fink !”

As the jurors were all murky, they validated… “Yes it’s good! And the prize for female interpretation, we give it to the Veuve Cliquot!” But the next day, past the hangover, it rattles in the jury. They question the choice of the Palme d’Or. Polanski refuses to change the alcoholic decision of the day before. Worse, he decides to give the price of male interpretation and that of the direction to Barton Fink.

By making the most awarded film in the history of the Cannes film festival nowadays. In a panic, the management awards honorary prizes to other films. For instance, they invent a prize for best supporting actor for Samuel Jackson. And above all modify the rules: since 91, the jury can no longer give 2 awards to the same film, except for an interpretation award. Thanks WHO ? Thank you Polansky!

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Cannes Film Festival: why the 1991 Palme d’Or caused a huge scandal