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Matt Damon met the international press in Cannes Friday afternoon after bringing a welcome dose of Hollywood star power to the red carpet the night prior for the world premiere of Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater. Damon was joined by the director and his co-stars Camille Cottin, Abigail Breslin and Lilou Siauvaud.
The actor took a pause during the press conference to shed a little light on the moment on Thursday when he visibly broke down into tears during the standing ovation for Stillwater in Cannes’ Grand Théâtre Lumière.
“I was a little overwhelmed last night, and I’m really glad that we’re here this year,” he said. “Because I think we’ll all look back and remember this moment of launching out of COVID — and what a way to do it.” He also reflected on the “inhumane” experience the world had been through over the past two years, with everyone divided and unable to share in communal experience — and how the premiere of his new film brought home everything societies around the world have been missing. “To be in the same room with 1,000 other people who are strangers but are also part of the same community because we all love the same thing — it was such a great reminder of why we do this,” he said. “To be together like this!”
He added: “I never would have appreciated it in that way had we not just gone through what we went through.”
The press conference moderator added that French-Senegalese director and actress Mati Diop, a member of this year’s competition jury, had said earlier in the festival that this year’s event “is not the 74th Cannes Film Festival — it’s the first one of a new era.”
Added Damon: “That’s a really great way to put it — it does feel different. I’ve been here a number of times, and last night was unlike any other experience I’ve had here.”
Damon stars in Stillwater as an unemployed oil rig worker from Stillwater, Oklahoma who ends up a fish out of water in France after he learns that his estranged daughter (Abigail Breslin) has been falsely accused of murdering her friend while studying abroad in Marseille. With no allies in France and his daughter’s legal options exhausted, Damon’s character becomes involved with a single French woman (“a quietly luminous” Cottin, as THR‘s critic put it) and her nine-year-old daughter (Lilou Siauvaud, “a charming natural”) while facing wrenching decisions of how far he’s willing to go to secure his daughter’s freedom.
THR‘s awards analyst Scott Fienberg praised Damon’s “strong performance,” arguing that its likely the film’s best shot at awards season recognition.
Focus Features will release Stillwater in North America on July 30.
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