Cannes you believe it? Film festival ‘turns away women in flat shoes’

Part of a larger discussion, the festival’s error comes in the midst of recent claims that sexism  in the film industry is as rife as ever, writes Siobhan Smith 

Amidst a recent flurry of claims that sexism  in the film industry is as rife as ever, Cannes film festival has today joined the party, racking up several allegations of a sexist and discriminatory door policy.

It was reported that several women were turned away from the screening of Todd Hayne’s Carol for not wearing high heels. A female film producer who is missing a substantial part of her foot was also allegedly reprimanded on the red carpet for her choice of flat footwear.

That’s right, you heard us. Reprimanded for not wearing high heels.

Rather ironically, Carol is a tale of gender inequality featuring Cate Blancett and Rooney Mara as powerful female leads in a same sex relationship – set in a time when same sex relationships came at a price. Feminist role model Carrie Brownstein of Sleater Kinney and Portlandia also makes an appearance as Genieve, a woman who has a sexual encounter with Mara’s character, Therese.

I have no doubt that the Cannes organisers would tut at the depicted on-screen inequalities – how awful that those poor women weren’t allowed to express themselves the way that they would like to. Oh, wait…

Yep, it turns out that we exist in a time where women must wear suitably ‘feminine’ shoes in order to be granted access to a film screening at one of the world’s most famous festivals.

Emily Blunt with her co-stars and director to promote Sicario – Getty Images

Emily Blunt, who is in Cannes to promote her new film Sicario, said at the film’s press conference today: “That’s very disappointing.”

Wise words, Emily. It sure is.

It’s particularly disappointing when 2015 was touted as the year of women by John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners. He told The Guardian:

“2015 will rock at the box office because it will be the year of women. Personally, I am so pleased that my daughter can see more women in leading roles than ever before.”

As long as she’s wearing suitably glamorous shoes to watch those films though, right?

Flat-gate (as it’s already been dubbed on Twitter) is part of a bigger discussion and comes shortly after Charlize Theron recently  sparked a debate about representation of women in the film industry when she said: “You’re either a really good mother or you’re a really good hooker.” This came in the aftermath of her controversial feminist injection in this year’s Mad Max sequel.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin agrees, stating: “There just aren’t that many tour-de-force roles out there for women.” While Carey Mulligan recently referred to the roles available for women in Hollywood as “massively sexist”.

The sentiment has been echoed by many. It’s a timeless issue that undoubtedly needs much more work. Let the PR nightmare of the Festival de Cannes be a reminder to us all: Hollywood is depriving its actresses of the powerful leading roles they deserve.

Main image: Getty Images