(View full-size on the Flickr stream of the photographer, colonelchi. Enlargement after the cut)

Photographic evidence of a rare sighting of the elusive Terrenece Malick at during the ovation at the end of The Tree of Life for its Cannes premiere. FilmDetail points us to details in USA Today, with first-hand account from Jessica Chastain:

In what may be the festival’s best-kept secret, famously shy director Terrence Malick made a surreptitious and ultra-brief appearance at the festival premiere of his new movie, The Tree of Life, Monday night. Even as they clapped and cheered, most of the audience had no clue he was there…

After the film ended and the premiere audience engaged in a hearty ovation for his latest magnum opus, a moving odyssey through time and memory, the iconoclastic Malick slipped in quietly, having avoided the red carpet and somehow arranging for TV cameras to point away. In the midst of the extended ovation in side the Palais’ Grand Theatre Lumiere, Malick surreptitously entered and was suddenly in the actors’ midst.

“I saw him before the film and he was really very upset because he didn’t want anyone to feel bad or be insulted, but he just couldn’t do it,” said Tree of Life star Jessica Chastain. “He’s incredibly shy and he doesn’t like being photographed. And on that red carpet, I felt like I was going to faint. It was so much coming at me.”

Chastain and co-star Pitt, as well as the film’s producers who were on hand for an earlier press confernce and on the red carpet, are amazingly protective of the director they so admire. They seem to take Malick’s feelings into account as if he were a rare and easily wounded creature…

“I’m actually really glad he didn’t walk that carpet,’ said Chastain. “There’s so much energy, and it was beautiful and there’s a lot of support, but it’s a lot to feel.”

In the midst of the extended ovation in side the Palais’ Grand Theatre Lumiere, Malick surreptitously entered and was suddenly in the actors’ midst.

“Brad and I are standing there and everyone’s applauding, I looked over and in walked Terry,” said Chastain, her calm, measured voice rising excitedly. “I don’t think people realized it. The festival of course knew, but it was a last minute thing. And the camera kind of turned to the ground even though the premiere was being televised. There was nothing for like a minute on the screen and that’s because Terry came in. He stood there and everyone was clapping. The festival director was going ‘Yes!’ and throwing his arms up and trying to get everyone to recognize who Terry is. I came over and hugged Terry and Brad hugged Terry and Terry hugged his wife and it was a beautiful moment. It lasted like a minute and then he was gone.”

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