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Cannes seeks to clarify red-carpet code after backlash

Festival “reminds” staff of “rules” after backlash that included Emily Blunt voicing “disappointment”.

The media storm that engulfed the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday following Screen’s report of women being turned away from the Palais for wearing flats, has prompted attempts by festival top brass to clarify their dress code.

While a number of guests - including industry - have subsequently voiced similar complaints to those published by Screen, the festival press office issued the following statement:

“Regarding the dress code for the red carpet screenings, rules have not changed throughout the years (Tuxedo, formal dress for Gala screenings) and there is no specific mention about the height of the women’s heels as well as for men’s. Thus, in order to make sure that this rule is respected, the festival’s hosts and hostesses were reminded of it.”

The festival has also subsequently told Screen that the department we were directed to on Monday for explanation of red carpet regulations might not have been aware of the “right information” when they told us that heels were “obligatory” for women.

Festival head Thierry Fremaux took to Twitter to contest the Screen headline ‘Palais entry spiked for women in flats’ and also tweeted that “rumours” of a ban on heels were “unfounded”.

However, Sicario star Emily Blunt was among those to voice her disappointment at the reports yesterday, telling a news conference: “Everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels.”

The actress described the reports as “very disappointing, just when you kind of think there are these new waves of equality”.

At the post-premiere dinner for Sicario, Fremaux touched on the issue when he addressed guests, reiterating that there is no ban on high heels and that people were making too much fuss.

At best for the festival there has been a communications disconnect between top brass, security and staff. The overzealousness of some security was not previously addressed and some festival workers were clearly under the impression that heels were a must.

What we know is that prior to Monday a number of women were denied entry to the Palais for wearing flats and that the festival department Screen was directed to for confirmation of dress code confirmed that women were “obligated” to wear heels to red-carpet screenings.

The festival has now clarified both issues with staff and the rest of the world and that is ultimately a positive outcome for festival-goers.

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