During the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, females in film linked arms and walked the red carpet in a call for gender equality. 82 women — including Cannes Film Festival jury president Cate Blanchett, actress Salma Hayek, and director Ava Duvernay — marched up the steps of the Palais des Festivals to represent the 82 female-directed films that have been chosen for Cannes since 1946’s inaugural festival. This sounds like a pretty solid number until you learn that, in contrast, 1,866 male-directed films have been featured at the esteemed international fest in the same amount of time.
The Cannes protest, which was supported by the festival and organized by the Time’s Up movement, comes at a time of upheaval when actresses, producers and directors are refusing to be silenced any longer. In the first CFF since big-shot producer, Harvey Weinstein (not to mention Kevin Spacey, Louis CK — the list goes on), was outed as a sexual predator, the march is meant to reveal the difficulties women still have climbing up the professional ladder.
Documentary filmmaker, Agnès Varda (one of only two women who have won the festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or award in 71 years), joined Blanchett at the top of the steps to deliver a joint statement.
“Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise,” Blanchett said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress,” she continued. “We are writers, producers, directors, actresses, cinematographers, talent agents, editors, distributors, sales agents and all involved in the cinematic arts. We stand in solidarity with women of all industries… The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb.”
Timing couldn’t be better. On Monday, May 14, Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux will join members of Time’s Up at a conference hosted by Françoise Nyssen (France’s culture minister) and Frédérique Bredin (president of the French national film board, CNC). In the past, Fremaux has stated Cannes chooses its films based on quality, but has recently expressed that the festival will be taking new measures to introduce gender-balanced selection committees.
A change is on the way, and we’re so here for it.
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