Cannes: Protest Against Restrictive Abortion Laws Hits Croisette

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Sixty women and activists gathered at the Palais des Festivals to show support for women's rights.

Cannes' red carpet continued its political streak Saturday, with a pro-choice demonstration on the red carpet ahead of the premiere of Argentine director Juan Solanas' abortion documentary Let It Be Law (Que Sea Ley),

The demonstration brought together 60 women and activists from Argentina who unfurled a green sign and flags. Green is the signature color of the pro-choice movement in Argentina.

This year has seen directors unfurl banners on the red carpet, with Litigante helmer Franco Lolli protesting the assassination of Colombian filmmaker Mauricio Lezama and For Sama co-directors Edward Watts and Waad Al-Kateb condemning the Syrian regime's attacks on hospitals.

The protest follows the rejection of a law in Argentina legalizing abortion. The law was rejected last year, but will be put up for a vote again on May 28. The political debate in the country mirrors the one in the U.S.

But organizers said the protest is also a reaction to changes in U.S. abortion law. So far this year, four states — Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi — have enacted bans on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. On Friday, the Missouri House passed a bill banning abortions after eight weeks, except in cases of a medical emergency, with the state's Republican governor, Mike Parson, expected to sign the measure.

"In the U.S. what is happening now is part of a kind of global reaction to women's rights," Solanas told The Hollywood Reporter. "I feel like little by little we are moving towards equality between men and women, and this is a pushback, a last reaction."

Solanas' film follows the struggle to legalize abortion in Argentina. The bill was rejected by the Senate last year, and faces another vote later this month. It also coincides with a fresh round of debate in the U.S. as several states take measures to clamp down on abortion, including Alabama, where the governor signed a bill on Wednesday to ban nearly all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.

"The movie started with the desire to help in a teeny tiny, small way to make it happen, so having the film here, which is the most covered event in the world, that's not bad for a movie. It's already had a huge impact in Argentina. Thanks to Cannes, we have put the abortion topic right on the top of the news again," the filmmaker said. 

"For me, there is nothing more powerful than the truth," Solanas added of the movie's stark style, which features several women telling their stories straight to camera. "My hope is that the international attention will spread the message of the movie."