Cannes Film Fest 2018: Signing Pledge Ensuring Greater Gender Equality

Two days after the powerful march of 82 women on the stairs of the Palais, the Cannes festival’s chief Thierry Fremaux, Critics’s Week head Charles Tesson, and Directors’ Fortnight new exec Paolo Moretti signed on Monday a pledge ensuring greater gender equality.

The signing of the pledge took place during an international conference which brought together feminists and pro-equality movement members, including Time’s Up U.S., Time’s Up U.K., Italy’s Dissenso Comune, Spain’s IMA and Greek Women’s Wave.

The debate, moderated by filmmakers Celine Sciamma (“Girlhood”) and Rebecca Zlotowski (“Planetarium”), was organized by the org 50/50 for 2020, as well as France’s culture minister Françoise Nyssen and the national film board (CNC) president Frédérique Bredin.

“Have the festivals (Cannes Film Festival, Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight) issue statistics about the number of films in order to give the movement specific data;
“Be transparent about the list of members on the selection and programming committees in order to prevent any suspicion about a lack of diversity or parity while allowing festivals to make their editorial and strategic choices;
“Set up a timetable of goals to reach in order to ensure a perfect gender ratio within the respective terms.”
The festival’s jury entered the room with Fremaux, announced by French director Celine Sciamma.

“We will be more engaged,” said Fremaux in his remarks, after which the crowd loudly cheered Fremaux and sang “Happy Birthday” to jury president Blanchett.

“When we have a struggle and that struggle is taken up by someone, that is a victory. It’s about uniting, not dividing,” said director Rebecca Zlotowski about Fremaux’s involvement. “We are happy that Thierry is such a strong supporter. Without Thierry saying yes to the pledge, without saying yes to the stairs, we wouldn’t be here. If he’s part of the problem, he is part of the solution as well.”

“It is fundamental for the festival to be part of this,” said jury member Lea Seydoux after the signing ceremony.

The new pledge, dubbed the “Programming Pledge for Parity and Inclusion in Cinema Festivals,” was created by 5050×2020, the French group behind Saturday’s women’s march on the steps of the Palais, aims to sign on other festivals.

The ceremony followed a talk led by Zlotowski and Sciamma with representatives from Time’s Up U.S., Time’s Up U.K., Dissenso Comune (Italy), CIMA (Spain) and Greek Women’s Wave.

The aim is to roll out the pledge to other festivals around the world in the coming months. Toronto and San Sebastian have already agreed to sign, organizers said, and will host events at their respective film festivals later in the year. “Let’s make it global, let’s make it part of something bigger,” Sciamma said.

French minister of culture Francoise Nyssen also announced a conference on gender equality set for late June in Paris. Nyssen said the festival “holds the keys” to moving women forward, not just in film but in a variety of industries. “We must fight against the temptation to return to the past for our daughters and our grand daughters. We have a responsibility.”