Cannes: Festival Stumbles Over "Flatgate" Controversy

Cannes High Heels

Festival director Thierry Fremaux denies there's a high-heels enforcement policy, while Emily Blunt said the news was "very disappointing."

This year's Cannes Film Festival may have been labeled the "year of la femme," but Tuesday saw the event come under fire from women and men for its unwritten high heels enforcement policy on the red carpet.

Numerous women have been stopped from attending gala screenings, including for Carol – a lesbian romance that had been praised for its female-led cast and female producers – because of their choice of footwear. One was reportedly turned away for wearing ankle boots and tights, and another was actually physically pushed away for wearing platform sandals that security seemingly disliked.

Highlighting the pitfalls of wearing heels, Rooney Mara actually tripped on the Carol red carpet on Sunday night.


But there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason to the policy, with several female guests let in wearing flat shoes hidden under their gowns. THR sources spied one woman who got through in patent-leather loafers and red heart socks, while – even more daringly – another passed by security on Monday night with bright-red Dansko clogs very much on display.

Men, too, have experienced footwear problems at the Palais. One journalist turned up to the opening night screening of La Tete Haute wearing glitter tuxedo loafers but was stopped by security at the orchestra entrance. A French guard called in a superior who deemed the shoes inappropriate, citing the color ("black only," he said) and lack of laces. However, the same night, other attendees were spotted wearing boat shoes and brown heels. On another night, Chinese actor Sun Zu Yang was photographed with Paris Hilton wearing a disco-ball-inspired silver-sequined tuxedo jacket and matching shoes.

In the press conference for Sicario on Tuesday, Emily Blunt said it was “very disappointing” to hear that the festival was forcing women to wear high heels.

“Everyone should wear flats, to be honest,” she said. “We shouldn’t wear high heels anyway, that’s my point of view. You kind of think that there’s these new waves of equality and waves of people realizing that women are just as fascinating and interesting to watch, and bankable.”

Among the others to have commented is Amy documentary director Asif Kapadia, who tweeted that his wife had been turned back from a red carpet screening for not wearing high heels, but was “eventually let in.”

In response to questions, festival director Thierry Fremaux denied that there was a high-heel policy in place. “Not at all,” he tweeted. “The rumor that the festival requires high heels for women on the steps in unfounded.”

A festival source told THR that for red-carpet screenings the "rules have not changed throughout the years," and that women were required to wear formal dress. "There is no specific mention about wearing heels," the source added. "Thus, in order to make sure that this rule is respected, the festival's hosts and hostesses were reminded of it."

Despite such assurances, security might be on alert for shoe-based irregularities at Wednesday night's red-carpet screening after Sicario director Denis Villeneuve said he was planning to stage his own protest over "flatgate."

"Benicio [Del Toro], Josh [Brolin] and I will walk the steps in high heels," he told the press conference.

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