BY MALTI SAHAI/Cannes
The red carpet at the Cannes film festival is an elysium of old-fashioned glitz and glamour but the festival faced controversy after it emerged that a group of women in their 50s were turned away from the gala screening of Todd Haynes’s Carol for allegedly not wearing high-heeled shoes. The women, some of whom had medical conditions, were apparently barred entry for wearing rhinestone flats.
The festival is facing a backlash from film fans protesting against what many perceive as a sexist dress-code policy, even though Cannes’s director, Thierry Frémaux, has denied that high heels are obligatory.
Among those joining the backlash was actor Emily Blunt, who walked the red carpet in support of her new film, the FBI drama Sicario.
“Everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels,” said Blunt, when asked about the controversy at the Sicario press conference. “That’s very disappointing, just when you think there are these new waves of equality.”
Sicariodirector Denis Villeneuve joked that he and Blunt’s co-stars, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, would wear high heels to the premiere in solidarity. Del Toro then mimed wobbling along the red carpet from his seat.
Also critical of the dress code was Asif Kapadia, director of the Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy, which premiered in Cannes last week. Kapadia tweeted that his wife had initially been denied entry to the screening because of her footwear but was eventually allowed in.
Cannes’s red-carpet screenings are by invitation only. The official dress code is explained to guests after they collect a ticket. It is generally understood that men must wear black tie with black shoes and women must be elegantly dressed with smart footwear.
Gender equality has been a key theme in many of the films in this year’s Cannes selection. Ironically, Carol, the film to which the flat-wearing guests were denied entry, is perhaps the Competition film with the strongest feminist message. Based on the book by Patricia Highsmith, it tells the story of a young shop assistant, played by Rooney Mara, who embarks on an affair with a married older women.