Cannes Film Festival Workers Launch Rooftop Protest At Opening Night Gala

Cannes Film Festival Workers Launch Rooftop Protest At Opening Night Gala

After a frenzied day of covert organizing and internal discussions, members of the Precarious Film Festival Workers Collective (Le Collectif des précaires des festivals de cinéma) staged an impromptu rooftop protest at this afternoon’s Cannes Film Festival opening night gala. 

Members of the group snuck onto the roof of the Palais where they dropped a sign with their motto Sous les écrans la dèche (Under the screen, the waste). At the same time, another group of demonstrators from the collective began a second protest on the ground. They held a sign with the same message and began chanting and blowing whistles to draw attention. Local armed police immediately descended on the ground protestors and snatched the banner away after a brief tussle with the protestors. There were around a dozen protesters on the roof and a dozen more on the ground. You can see footage from the dramatic tug between the protestors and police just below.

Related Stories

The opening night protest was the first stage of the collective’s ongoing plans to demonstrate throughout this year’s Cannes Film Festival over the way they are compensated. We were first to report on the collective last month as they launched their campaign with plans to stage a strike action at the festival. It’s still unclear whether a strike will take place. But sources within the movement tell us they have made staggered progress and have locked a meeting with French labor minister Catherine Vautrin. 

The workers’ anger stems from two intertwined issues. Firstly, they are asking for better pay packages that acknowledge the long hours they work when events are in full throttle. Secondly, they want to be officially classed as temporary entertainment workers, known as intermittents du spectacle in France. This status would enable them to access France’s special benefits regime for people working in the entertainment sector, which is tailored to the fact they are often employed on temporary contracts and provide year-round income.

Late last week, the collective launched an online petition in support of their cause, which was signed by over 300 international industry professionals, including John Landis, Louis Garrel, Ernest Dickerson, and Ariane Labed. Other signatories on the petition include Thomas Hakim, the producer behind the 2024 Cannes competition title All We Imagine As Light, Belgian filmmaker and two-time Palme d’Or winner Jean-Pierre Dardenne, and veteran French cinematographer Agnès Godard. 

At Monday afternoon’s opening press conference, Cannes head Thierry Frémaux addressed the collective head-on, telling journalists in the room that “everyone wants to avoid a strike” and he believed a settlement would arrive around June.

Frémaux added that negotiations are ongoing with the collective and the festival has engaged directly with them on the issue. We’ve been told by sources that the group is cobbling together advice from various labor unions on how to proceed with any demonstrations.

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 14-25.