Feminist Protestors Storm Cannes Premiere of ‘Holy Spider’ With Smoke Devices

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A group of feminist protestors staged a dramatic scene at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, releasing plumes of smoke from handheld devices and displaying a long banner for the global press.

At the premiere of “Holy Spider,” director Ali Abbasi’s female-centered thriller, roughly 12 women in formal wear gathered on the famed stairs of the Palais with raised fists — filling the space with thick black smoke and holding a scroll with a list of 129 women’s names. The list, according to the group, highlights “129 feminicides in France since the last Cannes festival.” Feminicide is the intentional killing of women because they are female.

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Security seemed unfazed by the event, allowing the protestors to be filmed and photographed. One insider close to the production said the protest was not a coordinated stunt to promote the film, about a journalist who travels to the Iranian holy city of Mashhad to investigate a serial killer murdering sex workers.

According to the website Challenges, the protest was instead tied to the documentary “Riposte” screening in Cannes Sunday, which is about feminist activists.

The protest happened before the cast and filmmakers of “Holy Spider” arrived, said the source, who added that the caravan of vehicles carrying talent was stopped briefly on the Boulevard de la Croisette before arriving at the top of the red carpet.

The film is based on the grim true story of serial killer Saeed Hanaei, who believed he was on a holy mission to cleanse the streets of sin, according to the film’s synopsis. Abbasi wrote the script with Afshin Kamran Bahrami. The film stars Zar Amir Ebrahimi and Mehdi Bajestani.

This is the second feminist protest the Cannes Film Festival has seen in 2022. On Friday, an activist attending the world premiere of George Miller’s “3000 Years of Longing” staged a protest against purported sexual violence from Russian forces against the women of Ukraine. While the guest accessed the event in accordance with the premiere dress code, she removed her gown to reveal her midsection painted with the phrase “Stop Raping Us,” written alongside the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

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