Standing atop the steps of Cannes Film Festival, Cate Blanchett delivered a stunning speech on gender equality.
The actor – who currently serves as Cannes jury president – was joined by 81 other women in the film industry, each person representing one of the 82 female directors who have previously climbed those steps.
That number, as pointed out by Blanchett, pales in comparison to the 1,688 male directors who have made the same journey since the festival started in 1942. She also noted how the Palme d’Or, the festival’s most prestigious award, has been bestowed on 71 male directors but only two female directors.
“Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise,” she said, standing besides fellow jurors Ava DuVernay, Kristen Stewart, and Léa Seydoux, while famous French director Agnes Varda translated the statement.
“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. 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 today in solidarity with women of all industries.”
She continued: “We expect our institutions to actively provide parity and transparency in their executive bodies and provide safe environments in which to work. 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 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.
“And we acknowledge all of the men and women standing around the world for change. The stairs our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb.”
The march – which was organised by Time’s Up – then erupted into cheers and was followed by the premiere of Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun.
This year’s Cannes line-up has been criticised for lacking female-directed films; only three of those showing in competition were directed by women, the festival’s best showing since 2011.
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