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Monday, September 3, 2018

Cannes film festival ~ high heels ! ~ gender bias

The annual film festival held at Cannes, France, since 1946 famously  ‘Cannes International Film Festival ‘ previews new films of all genres, including documentaries, from around the world.  The invitation-only festival is held annually (usually in May) at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.  For the festival held in 2014,. New Zealand film director Jane Campion was the President of the Jury.  Winter Sleep, the film directed by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, won the Palme d'Or. The 68th edition of the festival is currently  on.  Joel and Ethan Coen have been announced as the Presidents of the Jury for the main competition.  It is the first time that two people will chair the jury.  French actor Lambert Wilson has been announced as the host for the opening and closing ceremonies.

The festival poster features Hollywood star and Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, photographed by David Seymour. The poster was chosen to pay tribute to Bergman for her contributions to films and who also served as the Jury President at 1973 Cannes Film Festival.  ‘Standing Tall’, directed by Emmanuelle Bercot, was announced as the festival's opening film. This will be the second opening film in the festival's history to have been directed by a woman.  French film director Agnès Varda will be presented with the honorary Palme d'Or at the festival's closing ceremony. She is also the first female filmmaker to ever receive the award.

Here is a sidestep - 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.  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. Screen Daily 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". Screen Daily first reported the story, after a "Cannes regular" told them how a woman wearing Rhinestone-encrusted flat shoes was denied entry. A spokesperson for the festival confirmed to the BBC  that rules have not changed throughout the years – there is mention of formal dress but nothing on the height of the women's heels as well as for men's.      The story provoked widespread outrage on Twitter, where the head of film at the SXSW festival, Janet Pierson, tweeted a link to the story with the words: "Why I don't go to Cannes".  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.

In confirmation of the code, MailOnline reported that an amputee was turned away from Cannes red carpet for not wearing high heels.  It is reported that Amputee film producer Valeria Richter was stopped four times and told 'you can't get in like this' as she tried to get into the screening.  Astonishingly, officials scrutinised her footwear despite the fact part of her left foot is amputated and she is unable to keep her balance in heels. Richter told BBC 5 Live she was separately questioned by four different officials as she attempted to make her way to the screening of Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees.  Eventually she was allowed into the movie screening, but claimed many of her colleagues not wearing heels were rejected and not allowed in.

The Guardian wrote on ‘red carpet’ rules - first, Croisettiquette declared that selfies were banned on the red carpet. At that point, we were sort of on board, because selfies are a bit naff, even though it is a bit snooty and French and annoying of them to make a fussy old law about it. But then, on Saturday night, female guests were denied entry to the premiere of Carol, starring Cate Blanchett, because they were in flats. Festival organiser Thierry Frémaux has denied that there is a Cannes ban on flats. Good news, Monsieur Frémaux, because if there was, it would be (a) idiotic (b) wildly out of touch, in a season when exquisite flat shoes are a catwalk-approved chic eveningwear option and (c ) so clearly not What Cate Would Do. Last year, Blanchett wore flat gold sandals with a ruffled, floor-length Chloé white gown on the Women in Film red carpet, and looked awesome. So, postmodern caveat to these red-carpet fashion lessons: sometimes the red carpet gets it wrong.

Opinions differ.  Etiquette expert William Hanson is quoted as saying – no one is bigger than the dress code and that  all hosts have a right to enforce a dress code. He argues that by accepting an invite you agree to comply to certain rules.  According to this report, flat-shoed women were informed they were breaking the dress code, which is (and always has been) Black Tie. This 'new' rule has caused outrage from some attendees and now the wider world. The French are, of course, known for their somewhat stroppy attitude, so perhaps some of the initial consternation stems from the manner in which festival officials may have informed the rule-breaking guests (I doubt it was done with much attention to tact).

Etiquette expert William Hanson argues  - there needn't be any argument or lost sleep over the issue. The dress code for Cannes is evening dress (aka Black Tie). For men this requires a dinner jacket and a black bow tie; for women an evening dress and heels. A flat shoe is a more casual, daytime piece and just not appropriate for a formal affair.  A heel does make the wearer's legs look a lot better than a flat shoe ever could. Trust me, I know. It elongates the leg and improves the walk, making both the shoe and the person wearing it look far more attractive. Flats can just encourage those with poor gaits to plod along, flat-footed.  The guests will have known about the dress code from past years, word of mouth, photos in magazines, and general convention (not to mention the invitation!). If you don't like the dress code, don't go.

Emily Blunt criticised Cannes officials for insisting on heels ~ but the  actress was spotted wearing them herself on the red carpet of  premier of Sicario....

William Hanson’s advices are quoted in dailies. First you have to find a pair that fits and are moderately comfortable. Heels should really never be over four inches; unless you’re attending a party where ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ is the dress code. Generally, it is lower heels for daytime, higher for evening. Too many women think they will look sexier the higher the heel. Wrong.  Roll your shoulders quite far back, imagine you are pushing them over a garden fence and back down the other side. Your hands should be behind the seam of your trousers/skirt and your chin should be parallel to the floor. As you walk, imagine you are walking down an invisible straight line. We don’t want to look like we’re on a catwalk, placing one foot directly in front of the other  !

With any form of gathering you must look like you have made an effort, if not you run the risk of offending the host and other guests who all have put in the work and mileage to make the party an occasion.  Whether Cannes stick to their rules may not be great news to us .... this one only makes some interesting read !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

21st May 2015.

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