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Donald Trump, that naked dress and a red carpet Karen: top eight moments from the Cannes Film Festival

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The 77th annual Cannes Film Festival wrapped up on Saturday, but movie fans are still buzzing about all the excitement, drama and controversy from the 12-day event.

Here’s a look back at eight of the most talked-about moments from the festival:

“Anora” wins the Palme d’Or

The festival’s highest prize was awarded to “Anora,” a comic but devastating Brooklyn odyssey about a sex worker who marries the son of a wealthy Russian oligarch. The film was directed by Sean Baker, whose previous works include acclaimed films like “The Florida Project” and “Tangerine.”

“This, literally, has been my singular goal as a filmmaker for the past 30 years, so I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with the rest of my life,” Baker said upon receiving the award.

“Anora” marks the fifth straight Palme d’Or won by specialty distributor Neon. It’s also the first American film to take home the prize since Terrence Mallick’s “The Tree of Life” in 2011.

Movie critic Peter Howell gave the film 3.5 stars out of four. “Sean Baker’s flair for rough-edged characters … pays off handsomely in this high-voltage screwball comedy,” he writes.

Mohammad Rasoulof’s “Seed of the Sacred Fig” receives 12-minute ovation

Written and directed by Iranian filmmaker Rasoulof, “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” tells the story of a Tehran family grappling with the oppressive practices of the Iranian government. The film, which was made in secret, includes real footage from 2022-2023 political demonstrations against the government.

Days before the film’s premiere, Rasoulof, facing an eight-year prison sentence on a charge of “propaganda against the regime,” was forced to flee Iran on foot. On the red carpet, the director held up photos of the film’s stars, Soheila Golestani and Missagh Zareh, who were unable to leave Iran. The film received a rapturous 12-minute standing ovation.

“The only reason I left Iran — and that was what made me take that decision — was to go on telling the stories of my land,” Rasoulof told Variety. “That was really my only motivation.”

Kelly Rowland and Massiel Taveras clash with security guard dubbed “Cannes Karen”

Movie fans are raising alarm bells after two altercations took place involving the same security guard on the Cannes red carpet.

The first incident occurred on May 21, when a female security guard appeared to rush singer and actor Kelly Rowland off the red carpet during the premiere of the French-Italian film “Marcello Mio.”

“There were other women on that red carpet who did not look like me that were not scolded, or pushed off, or told to get off,” Rowland said following the incident and the ensuing argument. “I set my boundary. I stood my ground and she stood hers.”

A day later, footage emerged of Dominican actor Massiel Taveras clashing with the same security guard.

On Monday, Taveras shared an Instagram post regarding the two incidents. “I want to thank all of you for this incredible support, today more than ever we need to stay together, support each other, protect our soul, have strong boundaries and stand for our rights,” she wrote.

Others have pointed out that the same guard also appeared to rush South Korean actor and K-pop artist Yoona from the red carpet on Sunday. All three actors are women of colour.

On social media, many are referring to the guard as “Cannes Karen,” while others are calling for Cannes to fire the security guard in question.

Celebrities show solidarity with Palestine on the red carpet

Over the 11-day festival, several celebrities used fashion to show solidarity with Palestinians amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

During the closing ceremony, Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El Moudir displayed a Palestinian flag on her glove.

Palestinian-American model Bella Hadid lit up social media with her “kaffiyeh” dress, which fashion writer Danya Issawi points out was made by designers Michael Sears and Hushi Mortezaie of the label Michael and Hushi. “The dress, which originally debuted on the runway in 2001, is beautifully made with tassels lining the bust and ruffles of fabric overlapping at the hem,” Issawi writes.

Australian actor Guy Pearce wore a Palestinian flag pinned to his tuxedo. The choice led to a minor controversy when Vanity Fair France photoshopped the pin out of Pearce’s portraiture series. Following a flurry of reaction on social media, the magazine apologized and removed the edited photo.

Australian actor Cate Blanchett also sparked a discussion on social media after wearing a black dress with a green-and-white hem that — when juxtaposed against the red carpet — appeared to look like the Palestinian flag. While neither Blanchett nor her stylist have confirmed the intention behind the dress, Suzy Tamimi, a Palestinian-American fashion designer based in Brooklyn called it a “clever and clear symbol of solidarity.”

“Megalopolis” divides critics

Francis Ford Coppola’s long-awaited “Megalopolis” — an epic sci-fi fable that reimagines New York City as New Rome, a futuristic city in an empire on the verge of collapse — generated plenty of chatter following its premiere at Cannes for both its ambitious scope and bizarre filmmaking choices.

But was it good? Depends who you ask.

Peter Howell, in a one-star review for the Star, called it a “colossal crap wagon,” while the Times of London called it “a head-wrecking abomination.” Meanwhile, Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri said the film “might be the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy every single bats—t second of it.”

“The Apprentice” generates praise and controversy

Among the most talked about film’s at Cannes was “The Apprentice,” a biopic about Donald Trump’s early years as a real estate developer in New York City. Directed by Iranian-Danish filmmaker Ali Abbasi and starring Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Strong and Maria Bakalova, the movie received an eight-minute standing ovation and mostly positive reviews from critics (including Howell, who gave the film 3.5 stars out of four).

But the film has also generated controversy, particularly surrounding a scene in which Trump is shown raping his first wife, Ivana Trump. A spokesman for the former president described the film as “garbage,” “pure fiction” and “election interference by Hollywood elites.”

Last week, Trump’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to the filmmaker in an effort to block its U.S. sale and release, Variety reports.

Best of the red carpet

As usual, the red carpet was another major highlight of the festival, “showcasing a wide variety of talent in a series of photogenic settings, framed by the Mediterranean coastline and lit by glowing south-of-France sunshine,” according to The Kit’s Rani Sheen.

Among this year’s best dressed were Demi Moore, who wore a spectacular Schiaparelli gown with a “surrealist aerodynamic bow” at the neckline; Anya Taylor-Joy, who wore a Jil Sander cropped jacket and miniskirt suit with a dramatic fringed cap; and Naomi Campbell, who wore a Chanel Fall 1996 sequin and sheer gown with pearl straps.

But the most head-turning moment came later in the festival, when Bella Hadid hit the red carpet in what Vogue called “the Naked Dress to End All Naked Dresses.”

Hadid wore the provocative mesh midi dress, designed by Saint Laurent, for the premiere of “The Apprentice.”

Meryl Streep receives honorary Palme D’Or

The legendary actor and three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep — who had not been to Cannes in 35 years, when she won best actress for the film “A Cry in the Dark” — received an honorary Palme d’Or on opening night of this year’s festival.

French actor Juliette Binoche was overcome with emotion as she presented the award to Streep.

“You have carved out an indelible place for yourself in the history of cinema,” Binoche said. “You are an international treasure.

“You change the way we look at women,” she added. “You changed the way we look at women in the cinema world and also helping us to look at ourselves differently.”

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