Cannes Film Fest 2018: Blanchett, Oscar-Winning Jury President, Leads 82 Women Protesting the Few Women in the Festival’s History

We are witnessing the birth of a global cultural revolution, kicked off by the sex scandals of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein!

Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, this year’s Cannes film festival jury president, led a women’s march up the steps of the Palais Lumiere Saturday night, propagating a clear and loud message: gender equality in film industries all over the world.

There was a moment of silence as 82 women took to the iconic steps–the famous Red Caret–standing in solidarity and calling attention to the low number of women in the 71 year history of the festival’s official competition.

The 82 famous women who participated in the event included Blanchett, fellow jury members Kristen Stewart and Ava DuVernay, Lea Seydoux, actresses Marion Cotillard, Salma Hayek, Leila Bekhti, Sofia Bouterra, and directors Patty Jenkins and Agnes Varda.

Varda, the oldest female member of the French New Wave, joined Blanchett to deliver remarks, reading out a statement that called out the few women who have been in competition.

“On these steps today stand 82 women representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946. In the same period 1688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs. In the 71 years of this world-renowned festival there have been 12 female heads of its juries.

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,” said Blanchett.

“These facts are stark and undeniable. Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise. 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. 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,” they continued, before reading out a list of demands.

“We will expect our institutions to actively provide parity and transparency in their executive bodies and safe environments in which to work. We will expect our governments to make sure that the laws of equal pay for equal work are upheld. We will demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so that they can best reflect the world in which we actually live. A world that allows all of us behind and in front of the camera to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues. We acknowledge all of the women and men who are standing for change. The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb.”

The number of women was significant: In the 71-year history of the Cannes Film Fest, only 82 films directed by women have been featured in the main competition compared with 1,645 films by male helmers.

The showing preceded the gala premiere for the only female-directed film in competition this year, Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun, a drama about a Kurdish female fighters, co-starring French actress-director Emmanuelle Bercot.

The DJs played “I’m Every Woman” as the crowd waited in line. And while Husson and her actresses made their way on the carpet, Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” caused a dance party on that saw Bercot and co-star Golshifteh Farahani up the energy for the photographers.

Inside the Palais, the capacity crowd of 2,300 greeted them with a standing ovation, and while this is routine before a screening, it was an extended applause from the guests, among them Blanchett and filmmakers like Pedro Almodovar.

The French movement known as 5050×2020 orchestrated the event, using the symbolism of the iconic red stairs to show “how hard it is still to climb the social and professional ladder.”

The organization’s website calls out disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein and offers statements that echo the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. “While French cinema wasn’t shaken by the Weinstein shock wave, it is essential that we move to take concrete action reaching beyond the issue of sexual abuse alone,” reads the site. “We believe that the distribution of power needs to be questioned. We believe that equality restores the balance of power. We believe that diversity deeply changes representations. We believe that the opportunity to work in an egalitarian and inclusive environment must be seized because we are certain that the equal sharing of power will promote profound creative renewal.”

The 5050×2020 movement offers solutions of creating equal directorial boards by 2020 and the creation of “an observatory” to monitor equality in the French film business.

Other countries and industries are expected to follow suit very soon.