Cate Blanchett led a powerful silent protest at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival over the weekend. The Academy Award-winning actress was named President of the Jury, and she used her platform to highlight the gender imbalance at this year’s event.
Only 82 films directed by women were selected for the festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or competition, compared to 1,645 films directed by men. Blanchett, surrounded by her fellow female movie-makers, walked the red carpet in silence before stopping on the steps of the Palais des Festivals.
Standing alongside Salma Hayek, Kristen Stewart and Marion Cotillard, Blanchett said, “Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry says otherwise. We stand together on these steps today as a symbol of our determination to change and progress.”
She added, ”We are writers, we are producers, we are directors, actresses, cinematographers, talent agents, editors, distributors, sales agents and all of us are involved in the cinematic arts and we stand together in solidarity with women of all industries. We demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so they can best reflect the world in which we live.”
The protest comes after a tumultuous year of gender equality campaigns (including #MeToo and #TimesUp) and is an important step in 50/50 by 2020 – a French campaign seeking gender equality in Hollywood within the next two years. Supported by actresses such as Lupita Nyong’o, Natalie Portman and Meryl Streep, it’s steadily building momentum.
Speaking to onlookers at Canne, Blanchett called for, “a world that allows all of us, in front of and behind 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.”
Photo: Ian Gavan, Getty