British director and actor Greta Bellamacina claims that she was refused entry to the festival because she was with her baby, despite the fact she was attending the screening of her own film Hurt By Paradise.
For filmmakers, screening a movie at the Cannes Film Festival is a thrilling highlight of their career.
So it was for Greta Bellamacina, the 28-year-old filmmaker and poet from Hampstead, London, whose debut movie Hurt By Paradise about a single mother’s relationship with her babysitter, was invited to screen at Cannes’ Marché du Film. The movie, which was also written by Bellamacina and Sadie Brown and stars the pair in the two lead roles, was filmed over 22 days in 2018 in London and Margate with a majority female crew and a cast including Anna Brewster, Tanya Burr and Nicholas Rowe.
But when Bellamacina arrived at the festival on Wednesday, she found she was barred from entering because she was with infant son. Organisers informed the filmmaker that her pram could not go through the main entrance, and that if she wanted to bring her son into the festival she would have to pay £260 for his accreditation. Once she agreed to do that, festival employees informed her that it would take 48 hours to process the paperwork and asked her to leave.
Bellamacina continued: “Ironically, my film is about a young single mother trying to balance her life as a writer. She is treated quite patronisingly in some scenes in the film, but never as rudely as I was treated as a mother at the film festival today.”
All this in a year when Cannes is striving to appear accommodating to female filmmakers and mothers in particular. The festival launched a platform called Le Ballon Rouge dedicated to assisting filmmakers travelling with children. The group is involved in facilitating breastfeeding and changing rooms, play areas for children and passes for nannies and children to the festival.
In a statement from the festival, Cannes acknowledged that there had been an error and that they were in the processes of correcting it.
The statement read: “Unfortunately Mrs Bellamacina was not aware of these new provisions and following poor communication from a security officer and a registration host, she was denied access which should have been granted to her. The festival deplores it and has been working to correct it since then. Mrs Bellamacina will get the badges and access that will allow her to benefit from the various initiatives that have been taken this year, and to work in the best possible conditions.”
But the skirmish highlights how the film industry – which already has a high barrier of entry for women – needs to change the way it approaches working mothers.
From the long hours to the intensive travel and the lack of facilities such as breastfeeding rooms for new mothers, if the film industry is serious about supporting women who work, then it has to also get serious about supporting mothers who work, too.
Shonda Rhimes, the award-winning showrunner behind Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and one of the industry’s most powerful women, told Los Angeles Times that she has made it a priority to include nursing rooms, playrooms and accessible trailers for pregnant women on the sets of her productions.
“It’s part of the culture here that nobody’s going to blink if there’s a kid in the office playing on the floor rolling a car,” Rhimes said. “That’s born out of the fact that when I wrote Grey’s Anatomy, I wrote it with a baby strapped to my chest. She learned to walk up and down the hallways of Grey’s. For me, that was the way this was going to work.”
With women like Rhimes and Bellamacina speaking up, the industry is slowly making long-overdue changes. Let’s hope that next time Bellamacina arrives at the Cannes Film Festival to screen a movie she has written, directed, produced and starred in, they’ll welcome her – and her baby – with open arms.