PARIS– Entering a new Era, the Cannes Film Festival and its general delegate Thierry Fremaux are joining forces with Kering, François-Henri Pinault’s French luxury powerhouse, to launch Women in Motion.
Conceived by Kering to highlight women’s achievements in film, Women in Motion will host a series of talks with high-profile talent and execs, as well as hand out two awards during the upcoming 68th Cannes film festival, which will mark Pierre Lescure’s inaugural year as president.
The first award will honor a prominent industry figure — regardless of gender — who has significantly contributed to the cause of women. The prizewinner will choose the recipient of the second award, which will go to an up-and-coming female director. Women in Motion will then support one of the projects of this young filmmaker.
Fremaux, who has had to address criticism over the perceived under-representation of women helmers in the official selection, is committed to the initiative and has confirmed he will participate in one of the talks.
“Women’s contribution to the film industry, be it on screen or behind the camera, is essential and invaluable. By putting this topic on the agenda, we hope to work toward greater recognition of their work and input to cinema,” said Fremaux, who also stated that Women in Motion was an integral part of the festival’s program and is meant to give “additional prominence to the talented women of film and their outlook on cinema.”
Added Fremaux, “The ‘Women in Motion’ Talks, for which I am delighted to be one of the first participants, will also provide the profession with a unique opportunity to futher discussions about the necessary advancement of the representation of women and their stories within the film industry.”
Hosted as morning sessions throughout the fest, the talks will deal with issues such as women’s status, their representation within the industry and the ways in which women characters are portrayed onscreen. The Women in Motion talks will also examine how female directors approach storytelling.
Pinault, the chairman and CEO of the Kering Group, is the driving force behind the initiative. “The artistic sensibility of women and the specific nature of female narration are an integral part of the richness of cinema.”
Pinault’s wife Salma Hayek, who is a notorious advocate for many issues including women’s rights, is not officially tied to the initiative.
“The ‘Women in Motion’ program does not just aim at highlighting the talent of women in cinema, but also emphasizes the interest of their work for audiences. Enhancing their visibility is essential when we consider the impact that films have on our ways of thinking and, ultimately, our everyday behavior,” added Pinault.
The two awards will be handed out during a presidential dinner on May 17 hosted by Lescure, Frémaux and Pinault.
Lescure said “‘Women in Motion’ was opening another chapter in the history of the Festival de Cannes and paving the way for the cinema of tomorrow, enriched by a greater variety of points of view and by the diversity of films.”
The former boss of pay TV giant Canal Plus and a well-respected industryite, Lescure also pointed out the “initiative perfectly corresponds to the new momentum we wish to give the competition: by exchanging views, supporting talent and honoring key figures and significant works, it reflects the values of beauty, progress and artistic and social ambition that have underpinned the Festival since its creation.”
A long-gestated project, Women in Motion has been carefully planned by Louise Beveridge, Kering’s head of communications, who had a successful career in the investment banking world before joining Kering in 2011 and is — like Pinault — committed to advancing women’s status in film. Beveridge enlisted the help of former CNC president Eric Garandeau, among other industry figures, to put together the initiative.
Kering is no stranger to women’s issues. Through the Kering Foundation, the group has supported more than 140,000 women around the world via partnerships with NGOs and social entrepreneurs. The company has also partnered with Gucci’s Chime for Change campaign to fight against violence toward women.
Kering has also built bridges with the film community over the years. It’s been involved in various films, such as Sherry Hormann’s “Desert Flower,” Yann-Arthus Bertrand’s “Home,” Cecilia Peck’s “Brave Miss World” and the upcoming Luc Jacquet movie “Ice and Sky.” The company has also supported the Tribeca Film Institute in New York, Britdoc in London, LACMA and Fremaux’s Lumière Festival in Lyon.
Although it’s lesser known, Kering also backed Luc Besson’s film school, located in the Cite du Cinema megastudio complex.