Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction Premiere at Cannes 25 Years Later: A Photo History

The filmmaker made his big debut at Cannes. 25 years later, he’s back with maybe his biggest movie yet.

47e Festival De Cannes

Over the course of 25 years, Quentin Tarantino has managed to cultivate a career-spanning relationship with the Cannes Film Festival. From his three Palme d’Or nominations, to his tenure as the festival jury president in 2004, to his occasional pop-up appearances on the carpet, it seems like the director and Cannes go hand in hand. And it all started in 1994, with Tarantino’s directorial debut, Pulp Fiction, which had its world premiere at the 47th annual Cannes Film Festival. The film won the director his first and only Palme d’Or (though he has been nominated for two more since) and eventually the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Pulp Fiction effectively put him on the map as an indie auteur, not to mention enfant terrible prodigy with a taste for onscreen violence; reinvigorated the career of John Travolta; and launched a collaborative partnership with Uma Thurman (who would later call Tarantino out for his physically abusive behavior on the set of Kill Bill and for not speaking about Harvey Weinstein’s noted predatory behavior despite knowing about it).

And the photos from that premiere—well, they are a dream time capsule of the ’90s. Just take a look:

The cast of Pulp Fiction at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.

Eric Robert/Getty Images

Quentin Tarantino and Bruce Willis in 1994.


John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis in Cannes, before the premiere of *Pulp Fiction*.

Eric Robert/Getty Images

Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson during the closing ceremony of the 47th annual Cannes Film Festival.

Eric Robert/Getty Images

Quentin Tarantino kissing John Travolta's cheek at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.

Eric Robert/Getty Images

Other members of the cast, including Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Maria de Medeiros, were also present when Clint Eastwood, the Cannes jury president at the time, presented Pulp Fiction with the Palme d’Or, and looked on giddily when the director flipped off an audience heckler who basically called him trash (and a few other expletives) in French. The French are timeless snobs.

Quentin Tarantino holding up his Palme d’Or in 1994.


Naturally, the cast attended the afterparty held at the Carlton in Cannes, right by the beach. Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve made a mother-daughter appearance just before the soirée, as well.

John Travolta arriving to the premiere of Pulp Fiction at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.


Bruce Willis, John Travolta, and Kelly Preston at a party for *Pulp Fiction*’s premiere in 1994.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty Images

Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve at the *Pulp Fiction* premiere in Cannes.


Bruce Willis smoking a cigar at the *Pulp Fiction* premiere party in 1994.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty Images

Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Willis, and John Travolta at the *Pulp Fiction* premiere party.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty Images

A decade later, Tarantino served as the president of the Cannes Film Festival jury, which included Tilda Swinton, Emmanuelle Béart, and Kathleen Turner. Although Kill Bill did not have its world premiere at the festival, the director screened Kill Bill: Vol. 2 out of competition instead. Tarantino ended up presenting the 2004 Palme d’Or to Michael Moore for Fahrenheit 9/11.

2004 Cannes Film Festival jury members Tilda Swinton, Quentin Tarantino, and Kathleen Turner.


It wasn’t until 2007 that Tarantino returned to the festival with a film of his own to screen in competition. He and Robert Rodriguez brought their slasher exploitation double feature (the collective title for both Death Proof and Planet Terror was Grindhouse) to Cannes, and stars Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Tracie Thoms, and Zoë Bell with them. Death Proof earned Tarantino another Palme d’Or nomination.

Rosario Dawson, Zoë Bell, Quentin Tarantino, Rose McGowan, and Tracie Thoms appear at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of *Death Proof*.


Two years after the premiere of Death Proof, Tarantino returned with another splashy, violent piece. This time, however, he was attempting to rewrite history with his alternate World War II drama Inglourious Basterds. The film was nominated for a Palme d’Or in 2009 but, again, did not win. It also marked the beginning of Tarantino’s collaboration with Brad Pitt, who will appear in the director’s latest film.

The cast of *Inglourious Basterds* at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

When it comes to the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival, it’s Tarantino’s Manson family murder drama Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Pitt onscreen together for the first time, which will be the talk of the town, though it was a recent addition to the slate.

First, there were the reports that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was not finished, and therefore would be unable to premiere at the festival. It was later rumored that the film would have its premiere at Cannes, but would not be screened in competition with any other films. Finally, it was confirmed just days before the festival that Tarantino would get to screen the film in competition, with the official blessing of General Delegate Thierry Frémaux, who called the filmmaker “a real, loyal, and punctual child of Cannes.”

With the 25th anniversary of Pulp Fiction‘s big Cannes win looming, premiering Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at Cannes does mark an historic event for Tarantino, who has perhaps earned the title of festival “child,” as Frémaux called him. Although the last time Tarantino screened one of his films at Cannes was in 2009, when the festival held the world premiere of Basterds (and earned him another Palme d’Or nomination, following the one for Death Proof two years before), he is one of the filmmakers most typically associated with the festival, hosting screenings and serving on the jury even when he doesn’t have one of his own films screening in competition. As with Pedro Almodóvar, Steven Spielberg, or Terrence Malick, audiences have come to expect and look forward to a Tarantino spotting at Cannes.

Related: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Trailer: Will Quentin Tarantino Try to Rewrite History Again?