20 May 2015

Furore over high heels at Cannes

11:04 am on 20 May 2015

The Cannes Film Festival has come under fire after reports women were turned away from a red carpet screening for wearing flat shoes instead of heels.

'Carol' actress Cate Blanchett (left), director Todd Haynes and fellow actress Rooney Mara arrive at the screening in Cannes.

Cate Blanchett (left), director Todd Haynes and fellow actress Rooney Mara arrive at the screening in Cannes. Photo: AFP

The women - some of whom were said to be older with medical conditions - were attending the world premiere of Cate Blanchett's new film Carol.

ScreenDaily said the festival had confirmed heels were obligatory for women at red carpet screenings.

However the director of the festival said the "rumours" were "unfounded".

Thierry Fremaux tweeted: "For the stairs, the regulations have not changed: 'No smoking, formal wear'. There is no mention of heels."

A note about dress codes on the festival's website appears to reinforce his point. It says "black tie /evening dress is required for gala screenings" - with no guidance on heel height.

'Buy appropriate shoes'

ScreenDaily first reported the story, after a "Cannes regular" told them how a woman wearing rhinestone-encrusted flat shoes was denied entry.

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

Asif Kapadia, whose documentary on Amy Winehouse screened at the festival last weekend, also tweeted that his wife had been challenged over wearing flat shoes, although she was eventually allowed in.

A spokesperson for the festival confirmed to the BBC on email: "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."

She added that hosts and hostesses were reminded of the rules.

The festival said it had made efforts to address the gender imbalance between male and female directors this year, despite only two female directors being in competition.

They selected French director Emmanuelle Bercot's drama La Tete Haute (Standing Tall) to open the festival and organisers hosted a UN conference into equality on the red carpet.

Director Agnes Varda, who made her name during the French New Wave of the 1960s, will also become the first woman to receive an honorary Palme d'Or.


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