Dogs Are Upstaging the Stars at Cannes This Year

This year, Cannes was all about the dogs.

At the 77th edition of the annual film festival, the name on everybody’s lips was Messi, a 7-year-old French Border Collie known for his breakout role in the Oscar-nominated flick Anatomy of a Fall. The scene-stealing canine took home the coveted Palm Dog award in 2023 for his performance; this year, the pup returned to host his own talk show, Messi: The Cannes Film Festival From a Dog’s Eye View, The New York Times reported.

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“Last year we were not able to climb the famed steps of the Cannes arena, so this time we are returning, and we are able to be at the red carpet and to support all of the dogs that will be considered for the Palm Dog,” Messi’s owner and trainer, Laura Martin Contini, told the NYT.

Also in attendance? Demi Moore, star of the forthcoming horror film The Substance, made her Palais des Festivals debut with her four-legged friend in hand—literally. Moore attended the photocall with her chihuahua, Pilaf, and the teeny-tiny mutt arguably stole the show.

cannes demi moore dog
Demi Moore attended the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals with her dog, Pilaf.

“Cannes is a good place for dogs to get a showcase because the French have a very sensible approach to dogs,” Palm Dog founder, Toby Rose, explained to the publication. “They are always pretty much without exception welcome to join in restaurants, which I know to the Anglo-Saxon American and Brits is almost heresy.”

Rose, a cinema journalist, created the Palm Dog (or Palme d’Or) award back in 2001 and got the idea from his own furry companion, a terrier named Mutley. The inaugural winner was Otis, the canine lead of comedy-drama The Anniversary Party, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming.

“I think the Palm Dog was first made as a joke, because Palm Dog, Palme d’Or, very funny. Now for two or three years, it’s starting to be something very important actually,” Laetitia Dosch, the filmmaker behind one of this year’s nominees, told the newspaper. “It’s beautiful. I think it’s a great prize and I hope all the dogs will win because I don’t want any competitiveness between dogs.”

Dosch, who directed and wrote Dog on Trial, appears in the movie alongside her co-star Kodi, a 9-year-old mixed breed. In addition, Xiao-Xin of Black Dog was also nominated this year. The ceremony for the Palm Dog award is set for May 24.

“Dogs have become increasingly prominent in film, and their roles in film have become more significant,” Rose added. “We’ve now got to the point where Messi was so integral to Anatomy of a Fall. You can’t even imagine it without a dog.”

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