Harmony Korine, film director and screenwriter, was issued a lifetime ban from the Cannes Film Festival in 1998. The reason for his ban, however, remains largely unknown. Let’s take a look into the life and controversy of Korine and explore what lead to his expulsion:

Early Life

Korine was born in Bolinas, California in 1973. At age 19, he moved to New York City and began his career as a professional writer. Korine was quickly swept up in the film industry and served as a screenwriter for the Academy Award-nominated film Kids (1995).

Rejection From Cannes Film Festival

In 1998, Korine wrote and directed his first feature film, Gummo. The movie was set in Xenia, Ohio and focused on the lives of four boys who run wild throughout their town. Gummo was recognized for its touching, albeit controversial plot. Despite the film’s success, the Cannes Film Festival found it to be too outlandish and proceeded with a lifetime ban on Korine.

Korine’s Response

Korine responded to his ban in 2000 with a documentary titled Julien Donkey-Boy. The film focused on the life of Julien (Korine’s cousin) and again highlighted controversial topics. Sadly, Julien Donkey-Boy was not well received and was branded an “unacceptable” movie.


Ultimately, it is unclear why Korine was issued a lifetime ban from the Cannes Film Festival. However, it is assumed that the provocative content of his films and his rejection of mainstream filmmaking sensibilities were the deciding factors.

Whether you agree or disagree with Harmony Korine’s films, one thing is certain – he challenged the status quo and will be remembered for his boundary-pushing cinematic style.

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