Cannes Fest 2023: Variety Party, Celebrating Breakthrough Artists

Blanchett, Barefoot in Solidarity with Women of Iran at Cannes Party

Charles Melton, Tye Sheridan, Zahra Amir Ebrahim and Shaunette Renée Wilson were honored with a breakthrough artist award,

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Cate Blanchett speaks onstage at the Variety and Golden Globes Breakthrough Artists Party at Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Variety via Getty Images)
Variety via Getty Images
Cate Blanchett took the stage at Cannes Film Fest party, hosted by Variety on Friday night.
In Cannes, women are mandated to wear heels on the red carpet, and so shoes have become political symbol on the French Riviera. But Blanchett went barefoot to make a statement — to stand in solidarity with the women of Iran.
The multiple Oscar winner, on hand to present Holy Spider star Zahra Amir Ebrahim with a breakthrough artists award, grabbed the trophy and joked, “This is to stab everyone who stands in the way of women’s rights. Up the vajayjay!”

An emotional Ebrahimi called attention to her home country, which is “executing innocent people.” She said, “I always thought being an actress was a paradox: serving the emotions of your own and being a flag or mirror or light. This award celebrates this paradox.”


Blanchett kicks off her heels as she presents to “Holy Spider” star Zahra Amir Ebrahimi. (Photo by Pierre Suu/Variety via Getty Images) Variety via Getty Images

Along with Ebrahimi, “May December” actor Charles Melton, “Black Flies” star Tye Sheridan and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” breakout Shaunette Renée Wilson were also honored at the gathering, a Cannes collaboration with Variety and the Globes that celebrated breakthrough actors.

Deloitte was the official sponsor and Campari and Neom were premier sponsors.

The party, which brought out filmmaker Todd Haynes, playwright Jeremy O. Harris, director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, was held at Barriere Beach at The Majestic Cannes.

They were joined by producers, execs and artists, including Thierry Fremaux, Mads Mikkelsen, Christine Vachon, Pauline Chalamet, Boyd Holbrook and Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard.

Variety co-editor-in-chief Ramin Setoodeh emceed the evening, which went on until 2 a.m. as attendees danced on the beach to decade-spanning hits.

Sauvaire, who directed Sheridan in the competition entry Black Flies, called the actor “my friend, my supporter, my partner.”

While accepting the trophy, Sheridan dedicated it to medics around the world, who served as inspiration for their intense thriller. “I’ve been super lucky to work with talented people,” he said. “You can’t be a breakthrough artist without having a lot of people who support you.”

Todd Haynes described the “daunting task” of finding an actor to play against these “extraordinary powerhouse women,” referring to Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, who co-star in his age-gap romance drama May December.

Melton plays the much younger husband of Moore’s character in the film, which debuts at the festival on Saturday night.


Todd Haynes and Charles Melton embrace at the Variety Breakthrough Artists Party. (Photo by Pierre Suu/Variety via Getty Images) Variety via Getty Images

“We started looking at readings and I saw this guy Charles Melton and I was like, ‘No, he’s so good looking. There’s no way,’” Haynes said of the actor who starred in the hit CW series “Riverdale.” “I heard the audition, and it has such nuance and understanding and confidence.” He called Melton’s performance “the great discovery of the film, and he agreed to put on 35 pounds to look more like a suburban guy.”

Melton praised his filmmaker, saying “It’s rare to find someone who trusts in you more than you trust in yourself. My legs are shaking right now.”

As Shaunette Renée Wilson graced the stage, she said “I think the sentiment of seeing promise in an actor is wonderful and beautiful.” She still seemed in disbelief about attending the festival for Dial of Destiny alongside Harrison Ford. “I was in ‘Indiana Jones,’ that’s insane.”