21/05/2015 10:37 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Brought To Heel: Cannes Director Apologises For Flat Shoegate Controversy On Red Carpet

Andreas Rentz via Getty Images
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Joan Smalls, shoe detail, attends the 'Youth' Premiere during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

The director of the Cannes Film Festival has apologised after a controversy blew up over women being denied access to the red carpet for not wearing high heels.

"We apologise," said Thierry Fremaux at a dinner at the famed Carlton hotel on Tuesday night. But he sought to downplay the controversy that blew up on social media after reports that security guards had turned away females guests for wearing flats at a screening of ‘Carol’ starring Cate Blanchett.

There was perhaps a small moment of over-zealousness," he said, apparently referring to the security guards. The story, first reported by trade magazine Screen International, sparked hundreds of angry tweets and was described by actress Emily Blunt as "very disappointing". "Everyone should wear flats to be honest. We shouldn't wear high heels anyway," said Blunt at a press conference for her new film ‘Sicario’.

The Canadian director of ‘Sicario’, Denis Villeneuve, joked that he and the film's co-stars, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin, would "walk the stairs in high heels" later Tuesday in solidarity at the red-carpet premiere. Sadly, the trio didn't.

The festival issued a statement Tuesday in which it denied there was any official diktat on female footwear. There was further confusion because Screen International said it was initially directed to a press spokesperson who told the magazine that high heels were "obligatory".

Festival organisers later told the magazine that the spokesperson was misinformed.

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