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Cannes: Women denied Palais entry for wearing flats

Stiff ‘croisetiquette’ sees older women denied access for ‘wrong’ shoes.

Click here for update (May 20)

After being criticised for the lack of women filmmakers playing at recent editions of the Cannes Film Festival, this year organisers have made efforts to bridge the gender imbalance by foregrounding women directors and producers [despite the main competition still only including two female directors].

However, in a bad PR move for the push for gender equality, a handful of women in their 50’s were turned away from the screening of Todd Haynes’ competition entry Carol [the film’s feminist appeal further ironising the shut-out] on Sunday night after being told the height of their smart footwear didn’t pass muster.

Multiple guests, some older with medical conditions, were denied access to the anticipated world-premiere screening for wearing rhinestone flats.

The festival declined to comment on the matter, but did confirm that it is obligatory for all women to wear high-heels to red-carpet screenings.

Senna director Asif Kapadia, whose Amy Winehouse documentary Amy screened during the festival, subsequently tweeted that his wife had received similar treatment, but was eventually let in.

One Cannes regular told Screen: “I’ve heard this happening several times now, even to older women who can’t wear heels for medical reasons. It’s bulls***.

“Someone I know was turned away for wearing nice flats, nothing you would wear to the beach. They were in their 50’s. They told her she could go and buy appropriate shoes and come back.”

While Cannes glamour is an essential part of the festival’s mystique and fun – men are required to wear bow-ties - the festival might need to rethink its sartorial policies to accommodate those physically unable to remain slaves to fashion or who don’t fancy opting in to gender codes.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • (I just posted a comment, but it disappeared. Sorry if I'm doubling up).

    "Multiple guests...were denied access to the anticipated world-premiere screening for wearing rhinestone flats."

    ALL of the guests who were turned away for wearing flats were wearing RHINESTONE flats? How do you know that? If true, why is everybody suddenly wearing rhinestones on their flats?

    Also, this can't have been a "a bad PR move for the push for gender equality" because the move wasn't initiated by gender equality advocates, and it didn't have a negative impact on gender equality. It was a bad PR move for the Cannes Film Festival.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get busy gluing rhinestones to my flats.

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    Men are not exempt either --I was whisked away from the opening night carpet for wearing silver shoes (with heels) and interrrogated by a style cop with whom I had to farcically debate the intricacies of 'Tenue de Soirée'. Eventually I was let in, with a stern warning, but relegated to the balconies –my shoes were too offensive for the stalls. My French friends refer to this as "red carpet fascism". Not the best face of Cannes

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