Cannes has been embroiled in a row over TikTok, after one of its judges quit a competition jury claiming the social media giant was interfering in its work.
The video-sharing platform is a partner of the film festival this year, to the displeasure of some purists and veterans of the Riviera event, and executives planned a raft of promotional activities including a parallel competition for short films.
Cannes' official partner quickly became embroiled in a row over cinematic integrity, after one of the competition's judges accused TikTok of trying to influence the jury, an accusation that came as the company is set to increase its influence over arts in the UK.
Rithy Panh, a Cambodian director, was selected to head the jury of TikTok's inaugural short film competition but quit claiming the social media giant tried to meddle in the judging process, saying: "They need to know that an artistic jury is a jury, not an algorithm."
The Oscar-nominated director spoke out against the interference, saying that if TikTok wanted a "real film competition" then the "independence and sovereignty of the jury has to be respected".
Two top prizes awarded
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Panh explained that his adversaries on the social media platform capitulated after his protests - and a brief time away from the judging panel - and the jury was ultimately able to hand out the two top prizes, which had been his initial suggestion.
The Grand Prix for short films, lasting from 30 seconds to three minutes, went to Japanese entrant Mabuta Motoki, and to Slovenian Matej Rimanic. The competition videos had been viewed four billion times.
A spokesman for TikTok told the Telegraph: "As with any creative competition where the selection of a winner is open to subjective interpretation, there may be differences of artistic opinion from the independent panel of judges.
"We were extremely happy to have seen an incredible enthusiasm from all our jury members."
Influence and exposure
The controversy comes after TikTok was announced as an official partner of Cannes, which would be allowed to enjoy a great deal of influence and exposure at the festival, including having video producers from the platform able to walk the red carpet.
The decision is understood to have displeased some cinematic purists at the festival, who have been disgruntled about the distraction from film at this year's event, which has also made space for discussion of the modern artistic trend of NFTs.
TikTok is seeking to expand across Europe, having established a recent partnership with Eurovision, and a string of relationships with British arts institutions, from the Black Country Living Museum to the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Described by Rich Waterwoth, TikTok's European boss, as "mutually beneficial" - as they bring younger audiences to venerable cultural events and institutions in exchange for visibility - the list of partnerships is set to grow, with the Hay literary festival last week announcing it would be working with the platform in future.
It is thought that as well as tapping into a younger audience, the platform could also provide welcome sponsorship.
A statement of reassurance from TikTok following the controversy in Cannes said: "TikTok is an entertainment platform that values and supports creative and authentic expression."
It added to highlight the scale of its reach that the competition entries were viewed billions of times across 44 different countries.