Cannes bans protests along the Croisette during Film Festival

Cannes has prohibited protests in the vicinity of the Croisette, and along the Croisette itself during the Cannes Film Festival.

The labor union CGT, which is represented by Denis Gravouil on the administration board of the Cannes Film Festival, is still preparing a large demonstration on May 21 but it will take place along Boulevard Carnot, far away from the Croisette and from the festival’s headquarters. There will also be a rally of hospitality workers, including staff from hotels, cafes and restaurants, in front of the Carlton hotel – whose famous guests this year include Martin Scorsese — on May 19, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The rally will most likely include protesters banging pots to express anger. It is technically permitted because the front of Carlton Hotel is a privately owned area.

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To prevent unrest, the City of Cannes and its regional authorities imposed this ban on most of Cannes. The country has been torn by massive protests over the French government’s unpopular pension reform raising the country’s retirement age since the beginning of March. The last time France was shaken by protests of that scale was in 2004 when hundreds of thousands of people turned up in the streets of Cannes, angered by changes to unemployment benefits rules brought by then president Jacques Chirac’s government.

Gravouil responded to the ban. Variety “it illustrates the way this government works whether in Cannes or elsewhere.” “This government didn’t block Neo-Nazis protesting in the heart of Paris on May 6, but there’s been so many decrees to ban the ‘casserolades’ (the concert of saucepans that’s been used to protest against the pension reform).”

Cannes has been restricting demonstrations along the Croisette since the terrorist attacks in 2016, but Celine Petit, a high-ranking CGT official based in Nice, said she “had been negotiating with local and regional authorities for nearly two weeks to reach a compromise over a demonstration path that would be close enough to the Croisette, as it was done in 2013, to give some visibility to (their) actions.”

“It’s always been possible to find a middle ground, but this time around they say they’re afraid it will degenerate, but frankly I don’t know if it’s really fear or a will to not give any visibility to our claims about pension reform or what’s going on in the film world,” said Petit, alluding that the org was also planning to protest against the inclusion of certain movies in competition.

“Aside from the pension reform, we’re also denouncing the way women are treated in the film world, but they don’t want us to stain the glittery image and standards of the Cannes Film Festival,” said Petit.

Both Petit and Gravouil, said the power cut inside the Palais des Festivals – most likely inside the Lumiere Theater — hasn’t been ruled out.

“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, and the Festival should understand this if they want to avoid things like (a power cut,” said Gravouil, who referred to the biblical story of David and Goliath to describe the face off. “Things will go much smoother if the festival plays ball with us.”

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