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The Croisette and the surrounding areas are off-limits to protests during the Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival
Francois Durand

Protesting during the Cannes Film Festival is prohibited by the city of Cannes along the Croisette and its surroundings.

The CGT labor union, which Denis Gravouil represents on the Cannes Film Festival administration board, is still planning a sizable protest for May 21; however, it will take place along Boulevard Carnot, far from the Croisette and the festival’s headquarters. On May 19 from 1 to 3 p.m., there will be a rally of hospitality workers, including staff from hotels, cafes, and restaurants, in front of the Carlton hotel, where this year’s notable guests include Martin Scorsese. The front of the Carlton is a private area, so the rally is legal. It is anticipated that protesters will bang pans to show their rage.

To avoid civil unrest, the City of Cannes and regional authorities enforced this ban throughout the majority of Cannes. Massive demonstrations against the French government’s unpopular pension reform, which raised the country’s retirement age, have engulfed the nation since the beginning of March. The last time protests of that size rocked France was in 2004, when hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Cannes’ streets in protest at changes made to the rules governing unemployment benefits by the administration of then-President Jacques Chirac.

“It illustrates the way this government works, whether in Cannes or elsewhere,” Gravouil said in response to the ban, as quoted by Variety. This government failed to prevent Neo-Nazis from protesting on May 6 in the heart of Paris, but there have been numerous decrees banning cacerolazo ” (the assembly of saucepans used to voice opposition to the pension reform).

Since the 2016 terrorist attacks, Cannes has restricted protests along the Croisette. However, Celine Petit, a senior CGT official based in Nice, claimed that she had been in negotiations with local and regional authorities for nearly two weeks to find a compromise regarding a demonstration path that would be close enough to the Croisette, as it was in 2013, to give some visibility to their actions.

“I don’t know if it’s really fear or a desire to not give any visibility to our claims about pension reform or what’s going on in the film world,” said Petit, making reference to the organization’s intention to protest the inclusion of specific films in competition. “It’s always been possible to find a middle ground, but this time they say they’re afraid it will degenerate,” said Petit.

But they don’t want us to tarnish the glitzy reputation and high standards of the Cannes Film Festival, said Petit. “Aside from the pension reform, we’re also denouncing the way women are treated in the film world.”

The possibility of a power outage at the Palais des Festivals, most likely in the Lumiere Theater, was raised by both Petit and Gravouil.

“The festival should understand this if they want to avoid things like a power outage,” said Gravouil, comparing the confrontation to the biblical tale of David and Goliath. “We want some space to speak out and be heard; we want to host a press conference and walk up the stairs of the Palais.” “If the festival cooperates with us, things will go much more smoothly.”

Despite the tensions, the CGT, which happens to be a founding member of the Cannes Film Festival, will be on the ground inside the Palais at 10 p.m. on May 21 to host a screening of “Amor, Mujeres y Flores,” a documentary by Marta Rodrguez and Jorge Silva about the harsh conditions of female workers at flower plantations in Bogotá. The screening will be followed by a debate attended by the French feminist organizations 50:50 and Femmes à la Camera.


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