Actress Irina Starshenbaum, centre, holds a sign with the name of the banned director, Kirill Serebrennikov, as she poses with producer Charles-Evrard Tchekhoff, from left, actors Roma Zver, Teo Yoo, director of photography Vladislav Opelyants and producer Ilya Stewart upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Leto' at the 71st international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 9, 2018. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

2 directors, barred at home, still speak loudly at Cannes

May 13, 2018 - 4:37 pm

CANNES, France (AP) — Twice the Cannes Film Festival has risen to given standing ovations to empty seats.

Chairs were left poignantly vacant for two absent filmmakers whose films are in competition for the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Both Iran's Jafar Panahi and Russia's Kirill Serebrennikov were unable to attend their red carpet premieres because both are barred from traveling out of their countries.

The directors' supporters say their absence has put the Cannes spotlight on two cases of artist censorship. Both were loudly applauded in absentia at their premieres.

At their films' festival news conferences, an empty seat was placed in the center of the panel, with a placard bearing their name in front.

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