The Powerful Way These 82 Women Protested For Gender Equality At The Cannes Film Festival

"Let's climb."

In the past 71 years of competition at the Cannes Film Festival, there have been 82 films with female directors in competition. To contrast, there have been 1,688 films by male directors. In an effort to decrease this gender divide, a group of women staged a powerful red carpet protest.

Cannes jury president Cate Blanchett was joined by women from various roles in the industry — actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, etc. — including fellow female jurors Ava DuVernay, Kristen Stewart, Khadja Nin, and Léa Seydoux. Also in attendance, walking arm in arm, were Agnès Varda, Jane Fonda, Marion Cotillard, Patty Jenkins, and Salma Hayek. The full list of women who took part can be viewed here.

Photo Credit: Reuters
Photo Credit: Reuters

"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," Blanchett said. "In the same period, 1,688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs. In the 71 years of this world renowned festival, there have been only 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 female directors: Jane Campion, who is with us in spirit, and the wonderful Agnes Varga, who stands with us today. These facts are stark and undeniable."

For reference, this year's Cannes Film Festival only has three films from female directors competing in a pool of 18. This is just shy of 17 percent. This is just one likely reason that the Time's Up movement and a French movement named 5050x2020, representing the advocacy for 50/50 representation by 2020, organized this demonstration.

"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 steps today as a symbol of our determination and our commitment to progress," Blanchett added, taking turns at the mic with Varda who spoke in French. "And we stand today in solidarity with women of all industries."

By saying this, it showed just how widespread this issue is around the world and in places other than Hollywood. On top of that, these 82 women stood there while a list of demands were read off. Demands that everyone — man or woman — deserve to have in their daily lives. And it seems to be working already, as those behind Cannes Film Festival signed a pledge to increase transparency and promote gender parity at their yearly event.

"We expect our institutions to actively provide parity and transparency in their executive bodies and provide safe environments in which to work," Blanchett noted. "We expect our governments to make sure that the laws of equal pay for equal work are upheld. We 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 in front and behind the camera, all of us, 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."

(H/T: Indiewire | Variety | The Wrap)

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