The Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday revealed its official poster for the 70th edition, kicking off May 17. In the image, a joyous Claudia Cardinale is seen dancing on a Roman rooftop, and showing a bit of thigh from under her twirly skirt. Evidently it’s too little a bit of thigh for some outlets and individuals who have run articles and taken to Twitter decrying the airbrushing of the original 1959 photo of the Italian icon.
A GIF of the two images (see below) was posted yesterday with folks asking why Cardinale’s waist was slimmed down for the poster and her thigh retouched to appear thinner. The French press chimed in, too. Liberation said, “Between the original and the copy, Claudia Cardinale dropped a dress size.” Magazine Telerama added, “While the poster is magnificent, we can see and deplore that the photograph has been largely retouched… Pity.”
Cardinale responded by releasing a statement via AFP calling the hullabaloo a “false row.” The Leopard and 8 1/2 star said, “I don’t have any comment to make on the artistic work done on this image. It’s a poster, which beyond representing me, represents a dance, a flight. The photo was retouched to accentuate the effect of lightness and to transpose me into a dream character; it’s a sublimation. Concerns over realism have no place here, and, as a committed feminist, I see no attack on the female form. There are other things happening in the world right now that are more important to be discussing. It’s only cinema, let’s not forget that.”
Fest chief Thierry Frémaux told AFP that the poster had been “very well received.” On Twitter, he retweeted a post by French helmer and UniFrance President Jean-Paul Salomé who asked: “What is this ridiculous controversy over the Cannes poster? All photos that are used for posters are retouched in one way or another.”
Frémaux also chided Elle magazine which ran a piece saying the poster made the Internet “scream.” The fest chief cheekily opines in the tweet below, “It’s true that Elle never publishes retouched photos; that’s well known. Where’s the retweet of Claudia Cardinale’s statement?”
Cannes has come under attack by women’s groups in the past. In 2012, it was criticized for a lack of female directors in Competition. There have been increasingly more women in the Official Selection, although Frémaux has said the festival chooses films based on merit, not gender.
In 2015, Cannes inaugurated the Women in Motion program that looks at the role of women in film. During that same fest, a red-carpet sandal scandal saw the festival lobbed with accusations of sexism after some female ticket holders were turned away from screenings based on their flat footwear. Frémaux at the time apologized for and denounced the actions of the security guard responsible and cleared up the fest’s policy on attire: “There is a rumor that the festival obliges women to wear heels. It’s a rumor, it is not true.”
Here’s the barefoot Cardinale in the original 1959 image and the artistic rendering of the poster by Bronx Agency: