Blanchett part of protest on Cannes carpet

Lea Seydoux, Khadja Nin, Ava DuVernay, Cate Blanchett and Agnes Varda at Cannes.The #MeToo movement took centre stage at the Cannes Film Festival, as Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Patty Jenkins and other female filmmakers and artists gathered together in order to agitate for improved treatment of women in the movie business.
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There were 82 women in total on Saturday, a reference to the number of female directors who have climbed the steps of the Palais, the festival’s central theatre, since Cannes began celebrating celluloid in 1942.

In the same period, 1866 male directors ascended the same stairs, Blanchett said in a statement, as the women linked their arms in solidarity. The Oscar-winning actress and Cannes jury head was flanked by Kristen Stewart, Marion Cotillard, Ava DuVernay, Lea Seydoux, and Salma Hayek.

“Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry says otherwise,” Blanchett said.

“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 are writers, producers, directors, actresses, cinematographers, talent agents, editors, distributors, sales agents and all involved in the cinematic arts.”

After Blanchett spoke, Agnes Varda, the legendary French film director of Faces Places, added, “The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb.”

The spectre of Harvey Weinstein, the indie film producer who helped spark an industry-wide reckoning after being accused of assaulting or harassing dozens of women, was evoked during a 20-minute gathering that was both solemn and celebratory. Announcers at the demonstration said this new awareness has come about in the wake of “Harvey Day,” calling it “a terrible event” with important consequences. After Blanchett and Varda spoke, the assembled women erupted in cheers.

Festival organisers have been criticised for failing to do more to publicly acknowledge the #MeToo and Time’s Up initiatives. They have also been faulted for not promoting more female filmmakers. Only three of the 18 films in competition this year are from female filmmakers — a low number that nevertheless represents Cannes’ best showing since 2011.

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