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Cannes: Matt Damon Opens Up About Why Opening Night Brought Him To Tears

Matt Damon Emotional At Cannes
Focus Features

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.

During the press conference, the actor took a pause to reflect on what had caused him to break down after the premiere, and subsequent standing ovation that followed, following the showing of his film “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.”

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Damon reflected on the “inhumane” experience the world had been through over the past two years, with everyone unable to interact in-person and how he was happy that the premiere of his new film brought a little piece of what society had been missing, taken away by the pandemic.

He also shared that what’s taking place over at the Cannes right now is an excellent reminder of the “why” behind people actually doing cinema.

“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!”

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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.”

Damon stars in “Stillwater” as an unemployed oil rig worker from Stillwater, Oklahoma who finds himself 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 and her nine-year-old daughter while facing wrenching decisions of how far he’s willing to go to secure his daughter’s freedom.

Scott Fienberg, an awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, earlier praised Damon’s “strong performance,” and he argued the film is likely to get recognition at this year’s awards season.

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Focus Features will release “Stillwater” in North America on July 30.