A new social media campaign with the hashtag #CannesYouNot is calling out the Cannes Film Festival for “celebrating abusers for 76 years.”
The campaign was launched online, days before the festival, by supporters of Amber Heard.
Her ex-husband Johnny Depp’s new film, “Jeanne du Barry,” will open the prestigious festival on Tuesday night when Cannes kicks off in the South of France.
Eve Barlow — a journalist, activist and close friend of Amber Heard’s — posted the hashtag across her social platforms. “Cannes seem proud of their history supporting rapists and abusers,” Barlow posted on social media with the French expression, “Plus ça change,” which roughly translates to, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Along with her caption, Barlow posted a series of photos depicting accused men who have been prominent presences at Cannes over the years including Depp, Roman Polanski, Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, Gerard Depardieu and Luc Besson. “If you support Cannes, you support predators,” Barlow’s post says.
The #CannesYouNot hashtag is being promoted across pro-Heard accounts on social media. A supporter named Rebecca, who runs the Twitter account @LeaveHeardAlone, is one of the individuals who helped organized the campaign. Rebecca (who has asked Variety to identify her only by her first name, in order to maintain her anonymity and avoid online harassment) says that most people involved in organizing the campaign, including herself, are survivors of sexual abuse. They found the Depp v. Heard trial to be “heartbreaking and frightening.”
“The Depp v. Heard trial became the vehicle through which the backlash against the #MeToo movement went viral. Hollywood industries seem to be riding that backlash to return to the status quo,” Rebecca says. “To open your festival with Johnny Depp? To be frank, it feels like a slap in the face.”
The city of Cannes has banned protests along the Croisette and its surroundings during the Cannes Film Festival. Organizers of the #CannesYouNot campaign, however, say they can’t be prevented from protesting online. The campaign was designed with Depp in mind, Rebecca says, but the intent is to shine a light on “the larger issue of men accused of abuse being protected and insulated by the film industry.”
“In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein watershed moment, the Cannes Film Festival said they took allegations of abuse seriously,” Rebecca adds. “We think it’s hypocritical for the Cannes Film Festival to have an anti-discrimination, anti-abuse policy, while opening the festival with a film starring Johnny Depp.”
On Monday at the first press conference of the festival, Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux pushed back on criticism that Cannes supports abusers. Speaking to a room full of journalists, Fremaux said, “If you thought that it’s a festival for rapists, you wouldn’t be here listening to me, you would not be complaining that you can’t get tickets to get into screenings.”
Depp’s public persona over the past few years has largely been defined by his ongoing legal battles with Heard. He lost a 2020 libel case involving her abuse allegations in the U.K., and then won another one in the U.S. that captivated the globe in 2022 with the trial being broadcast and closely examined across TikTok. Cannes’ opening of “Jeanne du Barry” is seen as a major comeback for Depp. And what a difference a year makes: during last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the trial was ongoing. Just days after the festival ended, the jury ruled in Depp’s favor.
Though Depp remains a controversial figure whose star power has waned amid his legal battles and troubling allegations against him, the past year has marked a stunning turnaround for the former A-lister who was dropped from mega franchises, including “Fantastic Beasts” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Aside from his big opening at Cannes, news recently broke that Al Pacino will star in a film that Depp is directing, becoming his first directorial work in over 25 years; that film will also be introduced to buyers at Cannes. And Depp just inked a $20 million deal with Dior, Variety , which is the largest men’s fragrance pact of all time.
“Jeanne du Barry” is directed by French filmmaker Maiwenn, who recently admitted to assaulting a journalist by spitting in their face. The journalist filed a police complaint against her earlier this year.
Fremaux has also defended opening the festival with Depp’s film. “I don’t know about the image of Johnny Depp in the U.S.,” he said at the opening press conference. “To tell you the truth, in my life, I only have one rule, it’s the freedom of thinking, and the freedom of speech and acting within a legal framework … If Johnny Depp had been banned from acting in a film, or the film was banned, we wouldn’t be here talking about it.”
Fremaux added that he did not keep up with the Depp v. Heard trial. “I’m the last person to be able to discuss all this,” he said. “If there’s one person in this world who didn’t find the least interest in this very publicized trial, it’s me. I don’t know what it’s about. I also care about Johnny Depp as an actor.”