Cannes Film Festival: Cate Blanchett leads Time’s Up protest

Leader: The dissent was led by president of the film festival’s jury Cate Blanchett, who has been a vocal proponent in the Time’s Up movement

The number of stars, filmmakers and film industry professionals on the steps represented the number of female filmmakers who have been selected to compete at Cannes during the festival’s seven-decade history.

In contrast to their 82, 1,866 films directed by men have been picked for the prestigious festival lineup.

‘Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry says otherwise,’ Blanchett said. ‘We stand together on these steps today as a symbol of our determination to change and progress.’ 

Time’s Up: A group of 82 women climbed the steps of the Palais des Festivals at the Cannes Film Festival in an unprecedented red carpet protest

Stars: It brought an array of film industry professionals to the Cannes red carpet, including actress Salma Hayek

Organizers said the event was orchestrated by the Time’s Up movement and the French movement known as 5020×2020 to show ‘how hard it is still to climb the social and professional ladder’ for women.

It brought an array of film industry professionals to the Cannes red carpet, including actresses Salma Hayek and Jane Fonda, ‘Wonder Woman’ filmmaker Patty Jenkins and French director Agnes Varda, a recipient of an honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Also joining were the five female members of this year’s Cannes jury: Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart, Ava DuVernay, Lea Seydoux and Burundian singer Khadja Nin. 

Blanchett read a statement from the Palais steps in English; with Agnes Varda reading it in French.

‘Let’s climb’: Blanchett read a statement from the Palais steps in English; with Agnes Varda reading it in French

Statement: The number of stars, filmmakers and film industry professionals on the steps represented the number of female filmmakers who have been selected to compete at Cannes during the festival’s seven-decade history

‘The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all,’ she concluded. ‘Let’s climb.’

The protest was held ahead of the premiere of French filmmaker Eva Husson’s ‘Girls of the Sun,’ which is about a Kurdish battalion of women soldiers. Husson is one of three female filmmakers out of the 21 movies in competition for the Palme d’Or this year.

The other two – Nadine Labaki’s ‘Capernaum,’ and Alice Rohrwacher’s ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ – are to premiere next week. 

The festival supported Saturday’s protest. Festival director Thierry Fremaux earlier this week hailed Saturday’s event as a way for women ‘to affirm their presence.’

Jury: Also joining were the five female members of this year’s Cannes jury (starting third from right) Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux, Khadja Nin, Ava DuVernay, Cate Blanchett and Agnes Varda

Fremaux has repeatedly insisted that the festival chooses its films purely based on quality. But he’s also signaled that the festival is reanalyzing its procedures and making its selection committees gender-balanced.

The shadow of Harvey Weinstein is also looming over this year’s Cannes. For two decades, Weinstein had been an omnipresent figure at the festival, where several of his alleged sex crimes took place.

This year, Cannes has established a hotline for sexual harassment victims at the festival.

Determined: During her speech, Cate Blanchett said, ‘The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all’

Fremaux has said the Weinstein revelations came as a shock to Cannes, forcing the festival to examine its own practices and do more to improve gender equality.

‘What emerged in Cannes must be fought in Cannes’, Marlene Schiappa, France’s secretary of state in charge of gender equality, told French television on Tuesday.

Over the next two weeks, the jury will watch the 21 films competing for the Palme, including new releases from Spike Lee, Pawel Pawlikowski and Jean-Luc Godard. Three of the 21 films are directed by women: Nadine Labaki, Eva Husson and Alice Rohrwacher.

Cannes has come under criticism for years for not selecting more women directors. Only one female filmmaker, Jane Campion, has won the Palme.

Equality: Salma was one of 82 women at the red carpet protest to campaign for more female representation within the film industry

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