Cannes: Thierry Fremaux Blames "Flatgate" Controversy on "One Security Guard"

Cannes High Heels

The festival director says more scrutiny was placed on Cannes than any other film event, including the Oscars, and weighed in on the debate over the number of female directors in the selection.

Cannes wouldn’t be Cannes without at least one entirely un-film-related issue exploding all over the Croisette. This year’s controversy was undoubtedly the matter of shoes, more specifically women’s shoes and the somewhat fuzzy rules behind what kind should be worn for the all-important red-carpet walk.

The news that women had not been allowed into gala screenings because they weren’t wearing high heels dominated much of the discussion early in the week, with A-listers weighing in on the matter and festival organizers outlining their stance on the previously ambiguous call for "formal dress," stating that heels were not actually mandatory despite numerous reports of non-heeled women being denied entry.

On Thursday, festival director Thierry Fremaux laid the blame for the so-called "flatgate" controversy squarely on the broad shoulders of "one security guard’s excess of zeal."

Speaking at one of the festival's "Women in Motion" talks, Fremaux apologized for the controversy, saying that it was "bullshit" and blasting the much-discussed unwritten dress code. "There is a rumor that the festival obliges women to wear heels," he said. "It’s a rumor, it’s not true."

On the ongoing debate over gender equality and the number of films directed by women, Fremaux argued that more scrutiny was placed on Cannes than any other event on the film calendar, claiming it was unfairly targeted and that people should also “attack the Oscars” or critique other festivals. “Who went to check out how many women were in competition in Berlin? Venice? No one,” he said.

“Female filmmakers don’t enjoy this debate; they feel re-discriminated against," he added. "Andrea Arnold said to me, ‘I’ve had two films in selection, I hope it’s not because I’m a woman.’ ”

Fremaux added that if there was one place that welcomed and celebrated female filmmakers, it was Cannes. He also proposed an interesting tactic to quell much of the debate: "Our dream would be to have a festival where there are no film credits so no one would know the sex of the director."