Model sues Cannes Film Festival over alleged assault on red carpet

A Ukrainian model who attended the Cannes Film Festival says she is suing the organisers after alleging she was assaulted on the red carpet.

Sawa Pontyjska is accusing the festival of physical assault, psychological as well as reputational damage and is seeking 100,000 euros (£85,000) in damages.

She says she suffered "rudeness" and "unreasonable use of physical force" at the premiere of Marcello Mio.

It is the same event singer Kelly Rowland spoke out about after appearing to row with the same female security guard on the steps of the theatre.

Pontyjska told Sky News the security guard "lost her temper" with her, and "pushed" her, and that when she asked her "not to be rude", she "grabbed" her.

She says she ended up being held in "a bear hug" before being pushed again and then being "thrown out" through the back exit.

Pontyjska says she was told: "For you today, the Cannes Film Festival is over".

Group civil action

She later shared a picture showing her in the empty red carpet area after the premiere had started at around 7pm local time.

The altercation was filmed by a member of the audience, standing in the crowd.

Videos shot by onlookers at the same event also appear to show several other female celebrities, including South Korean actress Yoona Lim and Dominican actress Massiel Taveras - who was wearing a long train depicting Jesus's face - being physically ushered to move along the red carpet by the same security member.

Pontyjska - who is a presenter for FashionTV and was crowned Miss Europe 2023 - says she is preparing a group civil legal action along with others she says were treated similarly at the event.

Pontyjska says she has reached out to the festival for an apology but has received no response.

Cannes has strict rules around its red-carpet events, with celebrities encouraged not to spend too long posing for photographers, particularly around the stairs and entrance to the theatre.

In 2018, the festival banned red-carpet selfies, saying they "tarnish the quality and tempo of ascending the steps."

Sky News has contacted Cannes Film Festival organisers for comment.