The city of Cannes has banned protests along the Croisette and its surroundings 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, which will likely involve protesters banging saucepans to express their anger, is technically allowed because the front of the Carlton is a private area.
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The City of Cannes and regional authorities went ahead with this ban across most of Cannes to prevent civic unrest. 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.
Reacting to the ban, Gravouil told 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.”
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 Rodríguez and Jorge Silva, about the harsh conditions of female workers at flowers plantation at Bogotá. The screening will be followed by a debate attended by the French feminist orgs 50:50 and Femmes à la Camera.
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