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High-heels ‘ban’ kicks up fuss at Cannes film festival

© Mehdi Chebil, AFP | A woman who is late for the premiere of "Sicario" runs toward the Palais des Festivals on May 19, 2015

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2015-05-20

The Cannes film festival on Tuesday was temporarily distracted by a rumour run wild: red carpet sentinels were shutting out women who ignored “Croisetiquette” requiring them to wear high-heels to film premieres.

Security and dress codes are notoriously strict on the Croisette, as the boulevard next to the Palais des Festivales in Cannes is often called.

However, following an incident that was immediately dubbed “heelgate” by festival watchers, some are saying organisers need to take a chill pill.

British magazine Screen Daily on Tuesday reported that a group of women were turned away from the screening of Todd Haynes’ film “Carol” on Sunday because their footwear was flat. The publication even wrote that festival officials confirmed that it is “obligatory for all women to wear high-heels to red-carpet screenings”.

“Carol” has been described as a love story between two women contending with strict socials norms in the early 1950s, accentuating the irony of the alleged fashion police operation.

Asif Kapadia, the director of a biopic about Amy Winehouse that screened at Cannes on Saturday, said on Twitter that his wife also had a related run-in with security, who eventually let her in despite being short a pair of heels.

Some movie critics and actors expressed outrage over the exclusions.

British actress Emily Blunt, star of the in-competition film “Sicario”, led the charge against Cannes’ shoes sticklers, telling reporters she was disappointed by what had happened.

"Everyone should wear flats, to be honest," she was quoted as saying. "We shouldn't wear high heels anyway. I prefer wearing Converse sneakers.”

Reacting to the mounting indignation, Cannes head Thierry Frémaux denied there was a rule against flats on the red carpet. “To climb the steps [at Cannes] the rules remain unchanged: ‘Tuxedos, formal evening attire’. No mention of ‘heels’,” Frémaux declared on Twitter.

Cult of celeb

FRANCE 24’s Mehdi Chebil, a veteran photographer of Cannes, said he had witnessed colleagues denied access to the red carpet for forgetting to wear bowties, but had never seen a woman turned away for not wearing high-heels.

He said the cult of celebrity was so strong at the annual film gathering that, although there are strict guidelines for ordinary people, celebrities got away with wearing most anything.

As an example he pointed to festive attire worn by Joe Jackson, the father of Michael Jackson, and his entourage to the premiere of “Sicario” on Tuesday.

Ben Dodman, FRANCE 24’s film critic at Cannes, said “heelgate” was being overplayed in the press and on social media networks, but that it was hardly a hot topic at the festival, where a slew of strong films are making for a very interesting and tight competition.

“But now I know why I have been getting turned away from all those VIP parties,” he joked.

Date created : 2015-05-20

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