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The film Roger Ebert called "the worst movie in the history of the Cannes Film Festival"


In a world where anyone and everyone can become a film critic by merely having access to a Twitter or Facebook platform, there remain strong journalistic voices who have a genuine impact on audience viewing habits. Where, in contemporary society, it’s the likes of Mark Kermode, J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum that can influence movie fans, back in the late 1980s, Roger Ebert had a monopoly on the field. 

A presenter and writer, Ebert famously appeared alongside Gene Siskel on the ’80s show At the Movies, a movie discussion show that saw the two passionate cinephiles give their opinion on the latest releases. Perfectly contrasting in personalities, Ebert was often a little more lenient than Siskel, though this is certainly not to say that he would refrain from an impassioned debate. 

Trusted by thousands of cinema lovers in America and across the globe who were willing to hang on his every word, Ebert celebrated the films of Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles and Yasujirô Ozu. In fact, in a list of his all-time favourites he names the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Citizen Kane, Raging Bull, Tokyo Story and even The Tree of Life, giving number one to Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

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When it comes to the worst, however, Ebert certainly has a few things he’d like to get off his chest, listing an array of films that includes 13 Ghosts, Constantine, Armageddon, Resident Evil, The Village, Flashdance and many, many more. 

One film that seriously rattled Roger Ebert, however, was the Vincent Gallo movie The Brown Bunny, premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. Calling The Brown Bunny “the worst movie in the history of the Cannes Film Festival,” in an extensive article, the critic sparked a bitter hatred between himself and the filmmaker. 

Calling the critic a “fat pig” in the New York Post, as well as telling the New York Observer Ebert had “the physique of a slave-trader,” Gallo went on the offensive, to say the least. Insulted that his film was so heavily criticised, the director went so far as to, in Ebert’s words, “put a curse on my colon and a hex on my prostate,” in a shocking piece of cross-media conflict.

Recognised as one of the most hated movies of all time, Gallo’s The Brown Bunny features an extended scene of himself receiving a graphic blowjob from Chloë Sevigny, a moment that shocked Cannes audiences. Whistling, booing and reportedly making the sound of a cow mooing, the film saw mass walkouts and a public outcry of disgust at the 2003 festival, walking away from the event with little but negativity and notoriety as one of the most hated Cannes films of all time.  

Whilst Ebert was hit with a peculiar hex from Gallo, he reported that he wasn’t “too worried,” mocking the filmmaker for his bizarre and offensive insults, adding, “I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.