As the entertainment spectacle prepared to begin amid bursts of protest on both sides of the Atlantic, Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux said he was open to inviting climate demonstrators onto the red carpet. Fremaux added that artists were allowed to address topics related to the Hollywood writers’ strike and that he had engaged in “constructive dialogue” with France’s CGT union, which had threatened to shut off the event’s electricity during its protests.
In an effort to concentrate the festival’s attention on the films, which this year include “La Chimaera” by Alice Rohrwacher and “Fallen Leaves” from Aki Kaurismaki, the city of Cannes has once again banned protests in the festival’s centre. However, the organisers are under unprecedented strain because of the convergence of at least three significant protest groupings.
“We are in the process of speaking with Cyril Dion, the French filmmaker and climate activist, because a big climate day is organised for next Monday,” Fremaux told a news conference. “It’s not impossible that we will welcome them at the top of the steps to express themselves,” he added. It was too early to tell what effect the writer’s strike would have on the festival, he said, but the right to strike had to be respected.
“We will see if the actors and the writers who will sit at this table for their films will want to talk about this issue – of course they will be welcome to do so,” he said. Talks with the CGT union – a founder member of the festival – had been positive and so far no concrete plans to cut power had been announced, he said.
The union has announced plans to have protests outside the restricted areas.
The festival “is a place that is protected for the fortnight but is at the same time a target for certain people to make demands because it projects them more strongly,” Fremaux said. The Writers Guild of America began a work stoppage on 2 May after failing to reach a new labour agreement with higher pay from Hollywood studios such as Netflix and Walt Disney.
France has been roiled by mass protests over government moves to raise the retirement age.