"Cannes of Comic Festivals" Sees Major Backlash After Unveiling Fake Winners

Ms. Marvel Number One Cover - P 2013
<p>Ms. Marvel Number One Cover - P 2013</p>   |   Sara Pichelli/Marvel Entertainment
The international comics festival's closing ceremony opened with a comedy sequence in which the wrong winners were announced for the main categories.

After initially coming under fire for a list of nominees that included no women whatsoever, the Angouleme International Comics Festival, the closest thing the comic book medium has to the Cannes Film Festival, is now facing a second backlash surrounding its annual awards — this time, because of an ill-considered joke made by the ceremony's host.

As this weekend's closing ceremony for the four-day event started, comedian Richard Gaitet told the audience that he would be presiding over "the shortest ceremony in history, because all we want to do is drink and dance," before quickly running through a list of winners in nine award categories including Best Comic, Best Thriller and the festival's main prize, the Fauve d'Or. While creators and publishers were celebrating their victories, however, two women appeared on stage to reveal that the winners named were, in fact, fake.

The awards were then presented to the "actual" winners, which included Marvel's Ms. Marvel, named Best Series.

Reaction to what have since become known as the "faux fauves" was swift, both at the event itself — one winner of the fake award reportedly left the event in tears after the joke was revealed — and on social media, where #FauxFauves was trending almost immediately.

This year's Grand Jury of judges issued a collective statement Monday in which they said they were "stupefied by the cruelty and vulgarity of the ceremony as a whole," adding, "the announcement of fake awards, which broke the hearts of numerous authors, publishers, and readers, in addition to the sexist and off-color remarks of the MC are beneath the dignity of a festival that remains an internationally respected flagship event in the world of comics."

The Angouleme festival has already issued a response to the outcry, which notes that "it is regrettable that the humorous register of this sequence was not shared or enjoyed by all, and the Festival organization is ready to submit written regrets to those of comic authors who may have felt offended by this sequence," adding, "it was obviously not the intention of the organizers, or the facilitator, to hurt anyone."

Host Gaitet offered his own apology, separately, telling Le Monde that he "thought — wrongly — that it could be fun, absurd [and] childish to imagine an opening hoax that challenges the convention of awards."