Cannes Film Fest 2017: Parents Complain about Treatment

The digital publication agnès films: supporting women and feminist filmmakers published “Parents in the Palais: An Open Letter to the Cannes Film Festival.”

‘The letter expresses concern for the festival’s treatment of working parents who attended the 2017 festival accompanied by their small children. The letter, written by activists, scholars, and filmmakers Alexandra Hidalgo, Sophie Mayer, Mathilde Dratwa, Barbara Ann O’Leary, and Marian Evans also provides strategies for the Cannes Film Festival to become a more welcoming space to parents who attend the event accompanied by their children and points to organizations working to address the issue, like Raising Films in the UK and Moms-in-Film in the US.

As the letter details, festival staff gave some parents misleading information about whether or not babies-in-arms required badges to enter the festival and barred award-winning Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir and Polish journalist Anna Tatarska from the Palais on various occasions, because they were accompanied by their children. This situation negatively impacts parents who work in the film industry and attend the festival to conduct business. The letter urges the festival to change its practices, providing examples of film festivals around the world that feature initiatives to welcome parents who are accompanied by their children.

The letter has been signed by 340 filmmakers, actors, film critics, film festival organizers, distributors, scholars, and activists from 35 countries. Those who have added their names to this cause include Oscar winning director Joanna Natasegara, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” director Marielle Heller, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Wakefield” screenwriter and director Robin Swicord, “Just Seen It” star and director Liz Manashil, and head of development, production, and acquisition at Amazon Studios Ted Hope.

In the last few years, issues of sexism in the industry have garnered ample media attention. Because women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of primary caring responsibilities, it is vital for film festivals to provide a welcoming space to parents traveling with children. As the open letter argues, the Cannes Film Festival is in a position to become a leader in welcoming parents and their children to film festivals and in seeking gender equality in the industry.

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