It was a historic moment as Hollywood star Cate Blanchett, this year’s president of the Cannes Film Festival jury, led a women’s march up the stairs of the iconic Palais des Festivals theatre to promote equality for women at the French Riviera. The demonstration assembled major Hollywood stars, including Salma Hayek, Kristen Stewart, Jane Fonda, Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux, Ava DuVernay, Patty Jenkins, Sofia Boutella and other directors and industry executives.
“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 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,” Blanchett said.
Agnes Varda, the legendary French film director of Faces Places,” added, “The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb.”
Total of 82 women were part of the protest. The number of participants was deliberate. Since the launch of the Cannes Film Festival, only 82 films directed by women have been awarded by an official selection in competition, compared to 1,645 films directed by men, a ratio of less than five per cent.
The march up the steps of the Palais was organised by a new movement called 5050×2020, which calls for more gender equality and diversity in the French film industry. It preceded a gala premiere for Girls of the Sun, a Kurdish female freedom-fighters drama from director Eva Husson.
Indian actors Nandita Das and Rasika Duggal also participated in the march.