It helps in Cannes, if you make a film that is either extremely boring or extremely provocative but preferably both, as American actor and director Vincent Gallo is finding out.
Last year, French film Irreversible made some in the audience throw up and even faint, after watching Monica Belucci being raped in the film for 10 minutes.
This year, Gallo, the former Calvin Klein jeans sex icon, put his audience to sleep for the first two thirds of the film, with one and a half hours of tedious driving scenes.
Then, the audience was suddenly jolted by a graphic oral sex scene in the last 30 minutes of the film that featured Gallo and actress Chloe Sevigny.
Brown Bunny immediately became the most booed movie so far at this year's Cannes Film Festival. At the following press conference, one of the first questions, inevitably, was, "Is it yours? [the penis]" and, "How did you convince Chloe to do the scene with you?"
"Weren't you a bit impressed?" Gallo replied.
"Not necessarily. And definitely not with the size!" some journalists responded.
Gallo first became known as an actor in Arizona Dream and French film Trouble Everyday. His directorial debut Buffalo `66 (1998), an edgy comedy in which he stars with Christina Ricci, was generally regarded as a successful American independent film.
Like Buffalo `66, Brown Bunny is another film produced, written, edited, and acted in, by Gallo. He was also in charge of cinematography and production design.
The story follows the cross-country road journey of a motorcycle racer named Bud, who spends five days driving from New Hampshire to California. Throughout the long drive he is haunted by the memory of his true love. In trying to put the past behind him, he asks any woman he meets on the road to come with him, but leaves them behind after they agree.
But the film indulges itself in Vincent's loneliness, with large portions of the movie focusing on him driving down an empty road, with no dialogue. Sometimes he pulls over for gas or else flirts briefly with strangers.
The monotony of the driving scenes drove around a thousand people in the audience at Cannes to make noises, boo, pretend to cough and laugh at inappropriate moments throughout the film. At the end of the screening, Gallo and Sevigny received a mock standing ovation from the audience. Dozens of other people walked out in the middle of the film.
"Is it a Vincent Gallo ego trip?" a journalist asked.
"It's dealing with un-popularity," Gallo said. "I have learnt to deal with the fact that I'm not popular. It comforts me. I'm not looking for popularity, I don't even want a career and even less so, a place on Hollywood's power list."
"I know you are calling it narcissistic behind my back. But I am not ... I am only interested in things I know, which are things about myself ... That's why I don't direct other people's scripts," Gallo said.
Commenting on the sex scene, Gallo said that he was not interested in
eroticism or pornography. "What people do physically in their sexual behavior contrasts with what they think they're doing, or how the impression is felt emotionally."
"When making the movie ... I couldn't imagine this scene in any other way. I couldn't separate the concept of watching what people do physically, and understanding what they're going through emotionally," Gallo said.