Cannes: Matthew McConaughey responds to 'Sea of Trees' boos

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Matthew McConaughey's Movie Booed

For a while it looked like the savaging Sea of Trees received after its press screening on Friday would be the elephant in the room at Saturday's press conference.

The assembled journalists tip-toed carefully around the subject, sometimes avoiding it entirely and occasionally offering the mild suggestion that perhaps the film wasn't among Gus Van Sant's finest, but without ever going in for the kill. As if expecting the issue to arise, the director, plus stars Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts, appeared somewhat subdued, McConaughey even putting up a somewhat defensive, unsmiling front to otherwise respectful questions.

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Cannes: Matthew McConaughey responds to 'Sea of Trees' boos
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Actor Matthew McConaughey attends the 'The Sea Of Trees' press Conference during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Franck Robichon - Pool/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Actors Naomi Watts and Matthew McConaughey attend the 'The Sea Of Trees' press Conference during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Franck Robichon - Pool/Getty Images)
US actor Matthew McConaughey talks during a press conference for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Matthew McConaughey attends a press conference for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Matthew McConaughey talks during a press conference for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Matthew McConaughey poses during a photocall for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Actors Naomi Watts and Matthew McConaughey attend the 'The Sea Of Trees' press Conference during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Franck Robichon - Pool/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Actor Matthew McConaughey (R) and actress Naomi Watts attend a photocall for 'The Sea Of Trees' during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
(From L) British actress Naomi Watts, US actor Matthew McConaughey and US director Gus Van Sant pose during a photocall for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) US director Gus Van Sant, US actor Matthew McConaughey and British actress Naomi Watts pose during a photocall for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) British actress Naomi Watts, US actor Matthew McConaughey and US director Gus Van Sant pose during a photocall for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Matthew McConaughey (L) and British actress Naomi Watts arrive to attend a photocall for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
British actress Naomi Watts (C) arrives with US actor Matthew McConaughey to attend a photocall for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Matthew McConaughey laughs during a photocall for the film 'The Sea of Trees' at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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And then, just past the 30-minute mark, it landed. Pre-empted with the classic "I really loved the film, however a lot of colleagues disagreed with me" get out clause, Van Sant and McConaughey were asked to comment on the bad reception.

"Anyone has as much right to boo as they do to ovate," said McConaughey, before the mic was quickly moved on by the moderator. But Van Sant was pressed to answer, although his response was slightly less succinct.

"I read a review this morning, and it was one of those reviews, it was very definitive, I was imagining everyone was the same person as the one writing the review, and I thought now I know where we stand," he said.

"I remember there was always a story after Elephant screened, there were fisticuffs, fighting off whether it was good or bad, actually punching, and that was at Cannes as well. Who knows, day by day, whether the screening was today or yesterday, whether it makes a difference, I'm not sure at the end of a particularly screening, I don't know."

"Ovate", as it happens, means "egg-shaped," so perhaps Van Sant's answers did actually make more sense.

The competition film has its red carpet premiere Saturday night.

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