Cannes film festivsl chiefs sign gender equality charter

Joann Johnston
May 15, 2018

Cate Blanchett and Agnès Varda led a women's march on the Cannes red carpet.

Eighty-two women climbed the steps of the Palais des Festivals at the Cannes Film Festival in an unprecedented red carpet protest to press for improved gender equality in the film industry. Kristen Stewart, Marion Cotillard, Ava DuVernay, Léa Seydoux and Salma Hayek were among those who joined.

Cannes Film Festival chiefs have made a pledge for gender parity and inclusion.

"We hope that it will reinforce the realization that the world is not the same anymore", Fremaux said. In the same period 1688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs. "The world has changed".

The Cannes Film Festival has already proven interesting this year with a female dominated jury that includes Cate Blanchett and Kristen Stewart that made headlines at their photocall.

Furthermore, she added, the festival's most prestigious prize, the Palme d'Or, has been given to 71 male directors but just two female directors, Jane Campion and Varda, who received an honorary version of the award.

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Saturday's protest came ahead of the premiere of Eva Husson's Girls Of The Sun, which is about a Kurdish battalion of women soldiers. Toronto and San Sebastian have already agreed to sign, organizers said, and will host events at their respective film festivals later in the year.

"Even if there is a higher proportion of women showing films at Cannes, we're aware that it's not enough", said Mr Fremaux.

Monday's pledge also called for the festival to compile statistics breaking down the gender of filmmakers and major crew members for all films submitted to Cannes.

The number of stars, filmmakers and film industry professionals ascending the steps represented the number of female filmmakers who have been selected to compete at Cannes during the festival's seven-decade history.

In the meantime, at the busy Saudi Arabia pavilion at Cannes, two of Saudi Arabia's leading filmmakers, Haifaa Al-Mansour and Abdullah Al-Eyaf, appeared on a panel in the Saudi pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival, where the topic of debate became whether the country needs an global film festival. Festival director Thierry Fremaux supported the march as a way for women "to affirm their presence". The attendees broke into a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for the Hollywood actress after the signing.

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