In France, a pensioner protest was held on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival

Although protests over pension reforms have roiled France in recent months, demonstrations at one of the country’s most glamorous events, the Cannes Film Festival, have been subdued.


France Cannes protest

French union protesters march to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, Sunday, May 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

The Associated Press

CANNES, France — Protests against pension reforms have rocked France in recent months, but demonstrations have been largely contained at one of the country’s most glamorous events, the Cannes Film Festival.

Dozens of protesters gathered in Cannes on Sunday to oppose reforms proposed by President Emmanuel Macron’s government in parliament. However, these protests were far from the festival’s central hub, the Palais des Festivals, or Cannes’ seafront promenade, the Croisette. Instead, they gathered on the outskirts of town, on Boulevard Carnot.

“We are against the pension reforms, because of which many people will die at work,” said Tomas Ghestem, one of the demonstrators.

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Ahead of the festival, local authorities in Cannes ordered a ban on demonstrations in most of Cannes. The move was part of a growing number of attempts across France to ban demonstrations in some key locations. The trade unions called for another national demonstration on June 6.

The ban kept Cannes’ famous red carpet away from protests and prevented one of France’s most divisive issues from disrupting the festival’s highly orchestrated run.

The only exception was Friday. Hospital workers circumvented the ban and protested on private property outside the Carlton Hotel, a historic luxury hotel where many stars stay during the festival. The hotel and catering industry workers held up a banner reading “No to pension reforms”.

Labor disputes have colored this year’s Cannes, which is happening during a strike by Hollywood screenwriters. Film and TV writers are pushing for higher pay, reforms in the streaming era and safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence.

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Juror Paul Dano said he plans to join the picket lines when he returns home. Sean Penn has called the studios’ stance on artificial intelligence “human obscenity.” The board of directors of SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, voted earlier this week to seek strike authorization from its members during its negotiations with studios for a new contract.