Cannes Public Demonstration Ban Put In Place For Duration Of Film Festival Amid Heightened Tensions Over Pension Reforms

All types of demonstrations and gatherings have been banned on the public highway for the duration of the Cannes Film Festival by the region’s Alpes-Maritimes Prefecture governing body.

The festival has a history of acting as the backdrop to public protests and expectations are high that the 76th edition will be no exception amid heightened tensions over France’s controversial pension reforms.

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The prefecture posted the ordinance, imposing the ban from May 16 to 27, on its website on Friday evening, saying it was necessary in order “to guarantee public order during an exceptionally big and international event”.

“The available police forces will not be sufficient to prevent and contain all the public order disturbances that are likely to arise,” it said.

The interdiction includes Rue d’Antibes, the Palais des Festivals, the Croisette and the Promenade de Pantiero alongside the Marché du Film’s International Village.

The French unions are currently part way through a 100-day campaign bannered “100 Days Of Anger! 100 Days To Win” protesting the state pension overhaul pushing up the retirement age to 64 by 2030,

Last month, the main energy workers union issued a statement threatening to cut power supplies at big events like Cannes and Roland Garros tennis tournament, while the country’s unions had announced a series of joint protests during the film festival on May 19 and 21.

Regular nationwide days of demonstrations and strikes have been taking place in France for more than four months to protest unpopular pension reforms forced through parliament by the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

Although most demonstrators are peaceful, demonstrations have erupted into violence and unrest in the big cities as some protesters clash with police.

The unions’ Cannes demonstrations are still set to go ahead as their planned locations are either not on public land or within the area included in the ban.

There will be a demonstration by hospitality workers employed in the local hotels, cafes and restaurants at 1 pm CET on May 19 on the forecourt of the newly restored Carlton Hotel.

A second demonstration is planned for May 21 from 11 am CET at the Rond-point de Grand Bretagne, which is a 30-minute walk from the Palais des Festivals and outside the jurisdiction of the ban.

The SPIAC-CGT, which has a seat on the board of the Cannes Film Festival, is also organizing an invitation-only screening of Colombian directors Marta Rodriguez and de Jorge Silva Amor’s 1998 documentary Love, Women and Flowers on May 21 in the Palais des Festival’s Buñuel theatre.

The film explores the lives of women working on Colombian flower plantations and their struggle to secure better pay and working conditions. French gender equality body Collectif 50/50 is also participating in the event.

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