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Donald Trump Movie ‘The Apprentice’ Shocks Cannes, Receives Nearly Eight-Minute Standing Ovation

One of the most anticipated moments of the 77th Cannes Film Festival finally arrived Monday night with the world premiere of Donald Trump's drama The Apprentice, starring Sebastian Stan as a younger version of the real estate mogul in the pre-MAGA era.

Only Francis Ford Coppola's wildly ambitious swan song, "Megalopolis," generated more discussion and curiosity ahead of its premiere at this year's edition of the prestigious French film festival. Before its reveal, almost no one had seen The Apprentice, with the film reportedly ending just days before its premiere.

Ali Abbasi, Stan and Martin Donovan and Maria Bakalova hit the red carpet in Cannes for the premiere. None other than Jeremy Strong, who plays notorious political fixer Roy Cohn in the film, was in attendance.

Directed by acclaimed Iranian-Danish director Abbasi and written by Gabe Sherman, The Apprentice explores Donald Trump's rise to power in 1980s America under the influence of controversial right-wing lawyer Roy Cohn. Succession Strong stars Cohn, alongside Martin Donovan (Tenet) as Fred Trump Sr. and Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilms) as Ivana Trump.

Several shocking moments at the end of the film — a scene depicting Trump's alleged rape of his first wife, Ivana, and an operating room sequence showing Trump undergoing liposuction — drew audible gasps from the audience at the Cannes premiere . As the end credits rolled, the Cannes audience began clapping to the rhythm of Baccarat's "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" playing on the soundtrack.

After the screening, Abbasi warmly embraced the cast, and Cate Blanchett, who was seated across from the director and crew, was the first to stand up, applaud and hug Bakalova. The loudest applause went to Stan for his transformative performance as Trump. The audience clapped and applauded enthusiastically, remaining on their feet for almost eight minutes, although several were seen leaving the stage after four minutes. Abbasi kept the crowd moving, clapping and randomly pointing to those in attendance. Abbasi also held up his cell phone at the cameras during applause to show a shirtless selfie of Strong in costume appearing to be backstage at his play in New York. The moment was met with huge cheers and Abbasi kissed his phone screen.

Addressing the crowd, Abbasi commented on current world events such as the war in Ukraine and the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, explaining that "in a time of unrest, there is a tendency to look to the interior” and to “bury oneself deeply in the world”. .” Sand, look within and hope for the best.

“The storm is not going away. In fact, worse times are coming,” he added. “But you can pretend he’s not there.” You can also manage it.

Abbasi then addressed the question of why he wanted to make a Trump-centered film, and said films needed to be "relevant" again. He explained: “There is no nice metaphorical way to deal with the rising tide of fascism. There is only the chaotic method. There’s just a cliché way. There's only one way to deal with this wave on its own terms, on its own level, and it won't be pretty, but I think the problem with the world is that good people have been silent for too long. So I think it's time to make movies relevant. “It’s time to make cinema political again.”

As of Monday night, The Apprentice had no U.S. distributor, although it had already been sold at Cannes to StudioCanal in the U.K. and Ireland, where it will hit theaters later this year.

Rocket Science is handling international sales for the project, which was financed by Kinematics, Head Gear Films, Screen Ireland, Film i Vast, the Danish Film Institute and the National Bank of Canada.

The film is produced by Daniel Beckerman for Scythia Films, Jacob Jarek for Profile Pictures, Ruth Tracey and Julian Ford for Tailored Films, and Abbasi and Louis Tesney for the Film Institute. Executive producers are Amy Bayer, Mark H. Rappaport, Emanuel Nunez, Josh Marks, Grant S. Johnson, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Thorsten Schumacher, Niamh Fagan, Sherman, Lee Broda, James Chaney, Andrew Frank and Greg Denny.


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