Cannes 2018: When a red carpet put an industry on the mat

Irene MckinneyMay 15, 2018

"In the 71 years of this world-renowned festival there have been 12 female heads of its juries". We hope that it will reinforce the realisation that the world is not the same anymore.

"Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise", Cannes jury president Cate Blanchett and French director Agnes Varda read from a statement during the protest.

In a display of solidarity with the Time's Up movement, 82 women in film have taken to the famous Cannes steps to protest the lack of female representation at the film festival.

Blanchett, a double Oscar victor, said they wanted "a world that allows all of us in front and behind the camera to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues".

The event was an about-face from festival director Thierry Fremaux, who said earlier this year that it was not Cannes' role to "organize #MeToo events ... because we don't have the skills or legitimacy to do so".

"The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all", she concluded.

Producer and activist Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood hailed the event as a "massive milestone towards change". "It's not a globe stunt because it is something in every woman's heart right now, and it's going to carry on and on and on", she said, noting that the fund is going to support low-income women. The prestigious Palme d'or has been bestowed upon 71 male directors - too numerous to mention by name - but only two women - Jane Campion, who is with us in spirit, and Agnès Varda who stands with us today.

"Several members of the global film festival of India, Goa were present at Cannes this year".

While members of the crowd called out Fremaux for historically not including women in the selection and downplaying the festival's responsibility for promoting gender parity, Zlotowski said Fremaux should be an ally. Cannes "must be a safe space for women", she stressed.

The 48-year-old has emerged as a key figure in Hollywood's fight against sexual misconduct. Her comments echo those of fellow actress Jessica Chastain who served on the jury a year ago and lambasted Cannes for its "disturbing" depiction of women. "In fact, the festival gave me an opportunity to get my film recognized in France and other countries", Shaji Karun said.

Once these guidelines are implemented, the festival should organically see a sharp uptick in films directed by women.

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