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Social Justice on the Red Carpet

Photo of "Butterfly Vision" protest

Featured Image: Photo by Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

The 75th annual Cannes Film Festival began on Tuesday, May 17, in southern France. The distinguished event hosts film screenings for the top people in the industry. A special jury of filmmakers and critics also awards top honors to filmmakers, cast, and crew. 

The event has never been open to the public, until now. 

While celebrities such as Anne Hathaway and Naomi Campbell were showing off their glamorous looks, other attendees were demonstrating social justice

The first act of protest occurred on Friday, May 20, at the premiere of “3000 Years of Longing”. A woman stormed the red carpet demonstrating against the alleged rapes of Ukrainians by Russian soldiers. Her topless chest was painted with Ukraine’s national colors and the words “Stop Raping Us.” Red paint was splattered on the lower half of her body, mimicking blood. 

On her lower back, the word “SCUM” was also painted. The word refers to a French feminist group, which claimed the woman was one of their activists. While the woman has not been publicly identified, the group wrote on Twitter that she was there to “denounce sexual violence against Ukrainian women in the war.” 

Security quickly circled the woman and removed her from the red carpet. 

Later that weekend, another demonstration occurred at the premiere of “Holy Spider”. About 12 women gathered on the steps of the Palais. The protestors raised their fists and held smoke devices with their other hands, filling the space with black smoke. 

They also held a scroll listing 129 women’s names. According to the group, the list highlighted the “129 femicides in France since the last Cannes festival.” Femicide is the intentional killing of women because they are female, according to the World Health Organization. 

Unlike the first protest, security did not immediately remove the protestors and allowed them to be filmed and photographed by the media. 

The third and final protest took place on Wednesday, May 25, at the premiere of Ukrainian film “Butterfly Vision”. On the red carpet, Ukrainian filmmakers stood covering their faces with clear signs depicting the symbol of a crossed-out eye, used on social media when content is considered sensitive or offensive by a platform. 

The protestors also held up a banner that read: “Russians kill Ukrainians. Do you find it offensive and disturbing to talk about this genocide?” 

Officials from the event have yet to comment on the protests, but many have announced their support for the protestors on social media. 

“Activism, true activism is supposed to make u uncomfortable,” one user wrote on Twitter. “it’s about being loud, aggressive, shoving it down (powerful) people[s’] throats, and forcing it in the media. it’s not instagram story infographs like a lot of u wish it was.” 

The festival ended Saturday, May 28. 

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