Cannes: Female Producer's Baby Turned Away From Film Market

Babygate Split 2 - H 2016
Pamela McClintock

Officials initially told Lauren Grant she couldn't bring her infant daughter into the secured area where the Canadian Pavilion is because of heightened security, but eventually relented and made the baby her own badge.

First it was Flatgate. Now comes Babygate.

Last year, the Cannes Film Festival was lambasted for discriminating against women when ushers at the Palais denied entry to some not wearing high-heels. The unspoken rule, in place for years, quickly ceased. And at this year's festival, currently underway, flat shoes have been commonplace on the famed red carpet.

But earlier this week, Toronto-based film producer Lauren Grant, holding her 9-month-old baby, was stunned when she went to pick up her market badge for the Cannes film market [Marche du Film], held in conjunction with the fest, and was told she couldn’t bring her baby inside the registration office.

Further, Grant was informed she wouldn’t be able to take the infant to the Canadian Pavilion, where she was to hold her meetings, because of increased security measures this year in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. The Pavilion is inside a secured area next to the Palais.

“A woman said the rule was no one under 18. I told her she’s not a kid. There’s got to be a difference between someone who is 16 and 7 and almost 9 months old," Grant, who brought someone to help with the infant, told The Hollywood Reporter. "I know the festival is trying to be better with women. This is not okay. I had to do my meetings in the Pavilion and then breastfeed on a bench outside of security.” 

Grant continued: “There’s this big concern that there’s not enough women in the film industry. But this is the thing: If I’m a woman with a child, should I not have come to Cannes and tried to find financing for my movies and delayed those films for a year because I couldn’t feed my baby? That actually makes no sense."

After three days, a pregnant producer suggested that Grant contact the head of the Marche du Film, Jerome Paillard, who personally called her. When Grant returned to the registration office on Saturday, her baby was bestowed a badge. In a statement to THR, Paillard said that he made an exception in Grant’s case despite the fact that the Marche’s conditions of registration specifically state “badges will not be issued to minors (under 18 years old).”

Grant said she knew she wouldn't be allowed in the actual market building and was only trying to gain access to the Canadian Pavilion.

Grant is the founder of the Toronto-based production company Clique Pictures, which focuses on female-centric fare. She recently partnered on Sugar Daddy, the feature directorial debut of music video helmer Wendy Morgan. Grant's husband is Canadian film distributor John Bain, president of Search Engine Films, who also is working on the ground in Cannes.


May 14, 10:45 a.m. PT: Updated to include statement from Jerome Paillard