Officials at the Cannes Film Festival denied allegations this week that security had turned women away from red carpet screenings because they were not wearing high heels.
Those denied entry reportedly included the elderly and even women with disabilities, according to earlier reports.
Film producer Valeria Richter, whose left foot is partially amputated, told BBC 5 live a different story and claims she was stopped at the festival because she was wearing flat shoes, and almost didn’t get let in.
“No, no, this won’t work, you can’t get in like this,” a red carpet official allegedly said to her.
While Festival director Thierry Fremaux tweeted the idea of a high-heel policy is “unfounded,” others have shared their own run-ins with security, saying they were also hassled for not wearing the appropriate shoes.
Richter, who said she “couldn’t keep her balance” in high heels after having her big toe and part of her left foot amputated, was allegedly stopped four times on her way into the screening for Matthew McConaughey’s new film, The Sea of Trees.
“They pointed their finger at my shoe and then were waving their fingers at me…It was quite obvious it was my shoes that was an issue,” she said.
“Obviously, I could wave my foot at them… And that would make the situation a little awkward for them, because I had a visible explanation [for not wearing high heels]” she continued.
According to the film director, many of her colleagues, also unable to wear heels because of disabilities, were ultimately denied entry into the festival.
British actress Emily Blunt spoke out against the alleged shoe ban, or “flatgate” rather, at a press conference Tuesday, saying it was “very disappointing.”
“Everyone should wear flat shoes to be honest,” she said. “We shouldn’t be wearing high heels anyway. That’s my point of view. I just prefer wearing Converse sneakers.”
“Flatgate” is making things a bit awkward for Cannes this year, as organizers were hoping to address sexism in film and television, which is a hot topic of debate more recently in the industry.
A female-directed film did open the festival for the first time since 1987, per the BBC, and event organizers also endorsed a series of “Women in Motion” talks by celebrity moderators including Salma Hayek and Isabella Rossellini.
Wendy Constance, a children’s author who attended Cannes in the 1970s, said the festival has always treated women unfairly with its dress code regulations.
“Back in 1971, when I started work I asked for [the] rule about women not wearing trousers to be changed. It was. Forty-four years later,”‘she wrote on Twitter.
“It’s ridiculous that women are still being expected to conform,” she added. “Some women like high heels, but a lot of us don’t!”