A Dene filmmaker says he was turned down the Cannes Film Festival red carpet because he was wearing moccasins.
Kelvin Redvers, who is from the Northwest Territories and works in British Columbia, says he hopes the incident is a learning moment for event planners and helps expand the idea of the festival of what counts as evening wear.
Redvers traveled to France as part of a delegation of six Indigenous filmmakers with support from Telefilm, the Indigenous Screen Office and Capilano University’s FILMBA program.
He was invited to a red carpet screening of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi The Almond Trees. Cannes has strict rules regarding formal wear on the red carpet – black tie for men, evening dresses for women – but there are accommodations for traditional formal wear, such as Scottish kilts or Indian saris.
Redvers thought his loafers paired with a tuxedo would qualify.
“To me, these loafers are ceremonial, they’re formal, basically,” he said on CBC. On the coast Friday. “So I’m going to wear a great tuxedo, I’m going to look great but I’m going to throw in just a little Indigeneity.”
Redvers had the loafers in a bag as he passed through the first security checkpoint, he said. He put them on and was then flagged down by security at a second checkpoint, who told him he couldn’t wear loafers.
“I was like, ‘No, no. It’s formal for me, I’m Dene,'” he said.
A French-speaking member of the Redvers cohort attempted to discuss the situation with security. Eventually, Redvers said, one security guard had enough.
“I guess he reached his limit and quite aggressively just put his foot down, to ‘go, go, go now, go’,” he said.
Redvers was eventually allowed to return to the red carpet after swapping shoes, but he said the incident left him and his contingent upset.
“I was really quite shocked by this aggressive treatment for what was such an exciting thing for me,” he said.
Redvers, the Indigenous Screen Office and Telefilm met with festival organizers, who issued an apology. He was later invited to wear loafers at a red carpet screening of Canadian director David Cronenberg’s new film. Future Crimes In Monday. He said he encountered some resistance upon arrival, but was eventually waved through.
Redvers says he hopes his experience on the red carpet has started a conversation among Cannes officials about the nuance of traditional evening dress.
Part of his clash, he said, could be attributed to the fact that so few Indigenous people attended Cannes.
“I guess they just hadn’t been exposed to something like that pair of beaded moccasins with moose hide,” he said.
He says he hopes that changes and adds that Cannes is more than red carpets, it’s also a time to network. He says the six Indigenous filmmakers have established industry contacts that they hope will lead to funding and distribution deals for their projects.
“We all think…are so close to premiering our films and having a presence at festivals like this because we all have big projects going on and lots of talent coming in.”
CBC has contacted the Cannes Film Festival for comment.