Cate Blanchett led female stars in an unprecedented red-carpet protest at the Cannes Film Festival last night to demand equal pay and an end to sexual harassment.
Salma Hayek and Kristen Stewart were also among 82 actresses, female producers and directors who marched arm in arm to demand equality and “a safe workplace” seven months after the fall of Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul accused of rape and sexual harassment.
The protest highlighted that only 82 films directed by women have been selected for the festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or competition in its 71-year history, compared with 1,645 directed by men.
Blanchett, who is presiding the jury this year awarding the coveted Palme d’Or award, one of the film industry’s highest honours, said: “We demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so they can best reflect the world in which we live.”
Cate Blanchett – Credit: Dominique Charriau /Wireimage
Cate Blanchett made a speech demanding workplace equality Credit: Dominique Charriau /Wireimage
She said female stars were calling for “a world that allows all of us, in front and behind the camera, to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues.”
Jane Campion is the only female director to have won the Palme d’Or, for her 1993 film, “The Piano”.
The march up the red-carpeted steps came before an unprecedented move by the festival to sign “strong commitments” on parity and diversity on Monday.
Thierry Frémaux, the festival director, said he supported the march as a way for women “to affirm their presence”.
82 actresses, female producers and directors who marched arm in arm to demand equality – Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage
82 actresses, female producers and directors who marched arm in arm to demand equality Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage
Just hours earlier, Marlène Schiappa, France’s minister for gender equality, revealed that several women attending the event had called a special helpline for women to report sexual harassment at the festival.
“A female responder who took one of the calls escorted an Anglo-Saxon woman to a police station to file a complaint on Friday night,” Ms Schiappa said. The term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ is used in French to mean someone from an English-speaking country. Neither the complainant nor the alleged attacker have been identified.
The line was set up for the first time this year following four alleged attacks at the festival in previous years by Weinstein.
US-Mexican actress Salma Hayek Pinault (C), and Algerian actress Sofia Boutella (2ndR) walk the red carpet in protest of the lack of female filmmakers – Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP
Salma Hayek was among the women at the red carpet protest Credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP
The #MeToo movement has thrown the spotlight on harassment and 40,000 flyers were handed out at this year’s festival reminding guests that sexual harassment can be punished in France by three years in prison and a £40,000 fine.
Cannes has also come under scrutiny over the small number of female directors selected for its competition.
Mr Frémaux insisted that the festival chooses films solely for their quality, but he has promised to make selection committees gender-balanced.
After the march, the festival screened Eva Husson’s “Girls of the Sun,” which tells the story of Kurdish women fighters.
Husson, a French director, is one of only three women whose films are among the 21 selected for the competition this year. The others are Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum” and Alice Rohrwacher’s “Happy as Lazzaro”, which are to premiere next week.c