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Cannes Film Festival's petty rules need to be kicked into touch

By Valeria Richter

Published 23/05/2015

Valeria Richter
Valeria Richter

Last weekend, I was denied access to the Cannes Film Festival's evening gala premiere of Gus van Sant's film Sea of Trees. Having been warned I might not get in with "those shoes", I was prepared to be stopped and have to explain why I was not wearing high heels.

I did not expect to wait on four separate occasions before getting a final okay to step onto the red carpet and enter the Palais de Festival.

Four times of Show and Tell. Four times of explaining that, with a missing toe and a partly amputated foot, heels are not an option. Then again, I shouldn't have needed a reason; I shouldn't have needed to explain at all.

So what is this Cannes Film Festival story on dress codes really about? As actor Emily Blunt has said, it's disappointing that this even needs to be discussed in 2015.

Heels are like any other limiting form of attire and should not be required anywhere, not for stewardesses, not in any other workplace - and the festival is a workplace for most of its guests.

To begin with, it's not written anywhere that women have to wear heels. However, everyone knows you do you risk being denied access.

So how does a woman get safely onto the red carpet? Long dresses, short dresses, trousers - the changing restrictions of female formal dress leaves much uncertainty as to what goes in any year.

Add shoes to the combination of personal interpretations of formal, and it can get you sent away with an unused gala ticket. What a waste, when the purpose of the whole event is seeing and talking about films.

Wouldn't it be classier to offer clear signals on what is or isn't allowed, and to allow for a certain freedom of interpretation? In the spirit of art, culture and equality?

By chance, I have become a voice speaking up for many of my film industry colleagues who have been stopped, inspected, denied access or sent back to change. Unless you have a visible reason for wearing flats, as I do, you may well end up losing the argument and have to wave goodbye to the gala screening.

Sexist. Silly. Stupid. Out-dated. I love Cannes, because it is a crazy, wonderful, exhausting festival that attracts a broad crowd of people from all around the world.

But the festival's policies should reflect this and be more in tune with their audience.

Valeria Richter is a film producer based in Copenhagen

Belfast Telegraph

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