Cannes 2018: Big Wins Overshadowed By Controversy About Alleged Sexual Predator Harvey Weinstein

Italian Actress Asia Argento has given a scathing address at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, telling the audience "I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes" and "this festival was his hunting ground".

What you need to know
  • Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's 'Shoplifters' took out the Palme d'Or award at the festival
  • Another big gong went to a short film about an Ethiopian family based in Melbourne
  • Actress Asia Argento delivered a jaw-dropping speech at the closing ceremony, taking aim at her alleged rapist Harvey Weinstein

The  highly anticipated closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival had more surprises than usual this year.

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's Shoplifters won the Palme d'Or award against social-media-fuelled consensus the big gong would go to a  female director.

Shoplifters is a sympathetic portrait of  an informal family of petty  thieves who, despite being forced together by poverty, develop bonds of real love.

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda holds the Palme d'Or for the film 'Shoplifters'. Image: AAP

Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who headed the jury of five women and four men, said it was "bloody hard" to choose a winner. 

"Women and men alike on the jury would love to see more female directorial voices represented," she siad.

“But in the end I think we were completely bowled over by how inter-meshed the [Shoplifters] performances were with the directorial vision.”

A short story about an Ethiopian family in Melbourne also carried off the top prize for a short film at the festival.

All These Creatures was shot on the outskirts of Melbourne and follows the journey of a teenage Ethiopian–born Australian trying to understand his destructive father, and the events leading up to a tragedy.

But it was an speech given at the closing ceremony in the French Mediterranean resort town that arguably had the biggest impact.

Italian actress Asia Argento delivered a rousing attack of Harvey Weinstein,  and, by extension, the Cannes film festival before  presenting the award for Best Actress.

Asia Argento excoriates Harvey Weinstein at the 71st Cannes closing ceremony. Image: AAP

Argento alleged Weinstein raped her during the Cannes festival in 1997 when she was 21.

“This festival was his hunting ground," Argento said.

 "I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again,' she said.

She went on to take aim at other sexual predators within the entertainment industry.

“He will live in disgrace, shunned by a film community that once embraced him and covered up for his crimes.”

Weinstein’s  Italian lawyer  Filomena Cusano has released a statement denying the allegations. "This is clearly a painful time for Ms. Argento, but it is a false narrative,” Cusano said in a statement.

“Mr Weinstein only wishes Ms Argento well.”

The 12-day festival was the first since the downfall of Weinstein, who had been a festival fixture for decades.

More than 70 women in the film industry have accused  the former film producer of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

Harvey Weinstein
Image: Reuters

Weinstein has issued an apology acknowledging he "has caused a lot of pain" - but disputes allegations he harassed or assaulted female employees and colleagues over nearly three decades.