Martin Scorsese got perhaps the most glowing endorsement of his latest film The Killers of the Flower Moon at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Apple TV+ feature, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone, explores a series of murders of members of the oil-rich Indigenous Osage Nation in the 1920s, unravelling the betrayal the community faced by white outsiders and the FBI investigation that eventually brought the killers to light.
Speaking at the press conference for the film festival on Sunday, Chief Standing Bear — leader of the Osage Nation — said that his people still “suffer” to this day.
“But I can say on behalf of the Osage Nation that Scorsese and his team have restored trust,” he said.
The previous evening, the Apple TV+ film bowed to an enthusiastic reception in the Palais, the audience rising for a standing ovation lasting 9 minutes, among the lengthiest of the festival so far.
Scorsese spoke of how deeply his meetings with Osage tribal leaders impacted his creative process.
“I knew when I heard what their values are about love, respect, and loving the earth — and I’m not talking about making this into a political issue; I’m talking about really how to live on this planet — it reoriented me every time I heard it,” Scorsese said.
“I wanted to know everything I could about the Osage,” he explained. “It’s overwhelming… The more I found out, the more I wanted to put in.”
Standing Bear added that there were young Osage working behind the cameras on the film across various departments, and also expressed his admiration regarding the work ethic of the top cast.
The specter of Donald Trump also made an unlikely appearance at the press conference. The former president and potential 2024 election candidate was referenced by Robert De Niro, who drew parallels between the political figure and the character he plays in Killers, a man who pretends to be an ally of the oil-rich Osage Nation in the 1920s only to betray them and oversee a series of brutal murders in his quest for wealth. “We see it today and you know who I’m talking about but I’m not going to say his name, De Niro said. “That guy is stupid.”
“It’s there and we have to keep a very close eye on it,” De Niro added, referring to the evil lurking in everyday white supremacy.
He went on: “There are people who think Trump can do a good job. Imagine how insane that is.”
Reflecting on happier thoughts, De Niro noted that the last time he was at the festival with Scorsese was with Taxi Driver in 1976. Taxi Driver, of course, would win the Palme.