Why is everyone obsessed with booing at Cannes?

Boos problem

By now, you’re probably aware that Kristen Stewart is a) at Cannes and b) got booed at Cannes.

Personal Shopper has become the most polarising film at Cannes thus far – all because it was the first festival film to be booed.

Kristen Stewart, booed? At Cannes?! How would her career ever recover from such a public display of distaste?

It turns out that the ‘Cannes-boo’ is not as simple to define as a Gladiatorial-style thumbs up or thumbs down, and a boo may not really mean, well, a boo.

Or if it does mean an actual boo, it may not be a boo for very long. Keeping up?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kristen Stewart and co received a four-and-a-half-minute standing ovation at the film’s premiere at the film festival, which is a pretty enthusiastic reaction to a film that was booed just days earlier.

The inconsistent Cannes-boo attitude is nothing new. Just two years after Nicolas Winding Refn won the festival’s Best Director prize for the Drive, he returned to a flurry of boos so bad for his next film Only God Forgives, that it spawned an entire documentary about his experience. TBF, it wasn’t as good as Drive, was it?

So why the obsession with boos?

Basically, it’s all about hype. Most of the press reports that come from Cannes wildly exaggerate the nature of the audience reaction. ‘Tidal waves of boos’, could actually mean one very loud press person wanting to be heard, teamed with a few mumblers who may or may not be trying to shake off a cough.

As Personal Shopper shows, when a film receives both boos and claps, the PR temptation is just too strong to not separate it into one definitive camp. Hype sells, even at an arty festival like Cannes.

When Brad Pitt and his The Tree of Life aired at Cannes in 2011, it had a mixed reaction, with claps and boos jostling for prime position after the film ended. It then went on to win the Palme d’Or and a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

So what do the boos really mean at Cannes? Not much, really. Unless you’re the person that has to stand up at the end of your film and take the pantomime hate like a pro. Then yeah, it probably means a lot.

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