Dene filmmaker turned down Cannes screening for wearing moccasins

A Dene filmmaker who recently attended the Cannes Film Festival is turning a negative experience into an opportunity to educate others about cultural representation.

Kelvin Redvers, who grew up in Hay River, says he was turned down at a film festival in Riviera, France, because he was wearing a tuxedo and moccasins, which was made by hollywood reporterHe hopes the event will spark a conversation and lead to wider acceptance of traditional Aboriginal dress.

“I’ve been looking forward to wearing my moccasins on the red carpet for weeks,” Redvers told Cabin Radio, adding that they were handmade by his siblings. “As Dene, I’m excited to wear formal and ceremonial attire on the red carpet. Moccasins are so important to a large number of Indigenous groups in North America.”


While the Cannes Film Festival has a strict dress code, they allow formal wear from different cultures and ethnicities, such as kilts or Indian sarees. But Redvers said when he was wearing his moccasins, security told him they couldn’t accept “slippers” on the red carpet.

Redvers said that while he and others tried to explain his moccasins were traditional Aboriginal footwear, a security guard “strongly and angrily asked” him to leave.

Photo courtesy of Kelvin Redvers at the Cannes Film Festival.

“I’m just as shocked, hurt and confused as to why he asked me to leave, like I was a trespasser,” he said.

The next day, Redvers said he and representatives from the Aboriginal Film Office and Canadian Television and Films met with festival organizers to explain the cultural significance of moccasins and discuss what’s allowed on the red carpet. Redvers was then invited to a screening of David Cronenberg’s film “Sin of the Future,” where he wore his moccasins.

“They did apologize for the way the guards treated me, but sadly still don’t quite understand the importance of moccasins,” Redvers said.


Festival organisers explained they were more used to full Aboriginal kingship, Redvers said, but he felt “putting Aboriginal people in a box”.

“It may not always be appropriate for an Aboriginal person to be a movie audience in full regalia,” he said.

“I’m biracial. My mom is Dene and my dad is not Aboriginal, so I bring suits, bow ties and moccasins as a way to mix formal attire from different sides of me.”

A photo provided by Kelvin shows him in a tuxedo and moccasins.

The Aboriginal Screen Office has proposed a partnership with the Cannes Film Festival to provide more examples of Aboriginal clothing for future dress policies.

“They’re willing to listen,” Redvers said. “Will see what kind of actual official reaction they have in the coming months or before the next festival.”

The Cannes Film Festival did not respond to Cabin Radio’s request for comment.

Redvers said that while the incident on the red carpet was hurtful, he believed the story had a positive outcome.

“I’m excited to have a conversation around moccasins and what they stand for because they’ve always been a part of my life growing up,” he said, adding that another Aboriginal filmmaker said he plans to Moccasins are worn on the red carpet.

“Fantastic. It makes me feel really good.”

Outside of the incident, Redvers said he had a good experience in Cannes.who is the producer Filming the feature film “Cold Road” Filmed in and around Haihe, he said he was excited about the future and the growing diversity of media.

Redvers was part of a delegation of six Aboriginal filmmakers traveling to France for the 75th Cannes Film Festival.

“It’s a huge honor,” he said, noting that the festival offers not only screening opportunities, but also a chance to meet distributors and producers.

“Most of the trip was great. It was so nice to be in the room with all these important people, so to speak.”