Cannes: “Unacceptable” Festival Mishap at Pedro Almodóvar Event Sparks Mini Riot

The first full day of the 2023 Cannes Film Festival was marred by a festival mishap that resulted in dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of festivalgoers being turned away from a screening for which they possessed tickets, all after they had waited for more than an hour in pouring rain.

Ticketholders for the 3 p.m. event at the 1,068-seat Théâtre Claude Debussy — the world premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s short film Strange Way of Life, followed by a “rendez-vous” with the filmmaker — were instructed to arrive by 2:25 p.m. But around 3:30 p.m., security officials notified the considerable number of people who were still waiting in line — including Los Angeles Times film critic Justin Chang, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Janet Yang and two Hollywood Reporter journalists — that the theater was at capacity and they needed to leave.

Such a situation should not have been possible, given the digital booking system employed by the festival. And no clear explanation or remedy was provided to the patrons, who stretched all the way back to the local casino when they learned that they would not be admitted. Many of them then descended upon security officials minding the gate. One security official was overheard acknowledging that the situation was “unacceptable.”

Some patrons were concerned about the prospect of receiving a “strike” for missing a screening they had RSVP’d to attend, three of which result in a termination of one’s festival credential. But many were just aggrieved about being prevented from seeing a highly anticipated film from a major auteur — a 31-minute “gay western” starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, the U.S. distribution rights for which Sony Classics recently acquired.

The festival and reps for Sony Classics and Almodóvar have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Scott Roxborough contributed to this story.

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