Cannes Film Festival Removed Activist Protesting Sexual Violence in Ukraine

Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images

Cannes Film Festival removed an activist from Friday’s red-carpet premiere of George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing. It appeared that the unidentified activist was protesting the sexual violence against women in Ukraine during the ongoing war with Russia. According to firsthand accounts, she jumped onto the carpet, stripped off all of her clothes, and began screaming on her knees in front of photographers. The activist was covered in body paint depicting the Ukrainian flag across her chest, along with the phrase “Stop Raping Us.” The protester also had the word SCUM on her back, together with red paint that resembled blood across her stomach and thighs. Cannes security then rushed the protester and removed her from the red carpet. Journalist Kyle Buchanan caught the incident on camera and was blocked from filming by security. The activist appears to belong to the French activist group SCUM, who posted an explanation on Twitter. Festival attendees and onlookers appeared unfazed in videos and photographs of the incident. Vulture has reached out to the festival for a statement.

This year’s festival is taking place amid calls to boycott Russian films in solidarity with Ukraine. In a compromise with Russian filmmakers and those calling for boycotts, the festival agreed to ban official Russian state delegations and individuals connected with Putin, all the while allowing Russian filmmakers to attend. In last month’s defense of the decision, Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux said, “We don’t give in to political correctness, we don’t give in to cultural boycott. We go on a case-by-case basis.”

Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov returned to the Palais for the first time since 2016 with his new film Tchaikovsky’s Wife. However, he was embroiled in controversy in a May 19 press conference over his film’s financial ties to the Russian Israeli oligarch Roman Abramovich. “I fully understand people who are calling for boycotts,” Serebrennikov told the press. “I understand them because they’re so pained, so hurt by what is happening in the country.” Although he called the war in Ukraine a “total catastrophe,” he believes that “we shouldn’t boycott language, we shouldn’t boycott Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Tchaikovsky, deprive people of music, the theater, cinema. On the contrary, this is what makes people feel alive.”

Serebrennikov’s film was financed by Abramovich’s Kinoprime film fund. At Thursday’s press conference, the director noted that the Russian Israeli oligarch was recently sanctioned by the U.K. and others for his alleged ties to Vladimir Putin, although Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has lobbied President Joe Biden on Abramovich’s behalf, according to a Variety report.

Cannes Removed Activist Against Sexual Violence in Ukraine