Cate Blanchett, the president of the jury for the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival, said that strides for women in Hollywood wouldn’t happen overnight as a result of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements.
“For profound changes to occur, it needs to take place through specific actions,” Blanchett said at a press conference in the South of France on Tuesday morning. “It’s addressing the gender gap and the racial diversity and the equality and the way we make our work.”
She conceded that the dialogue about women in Hollywood hadn’t changed Cannes yet. The festival has suffered from widespread criticism in recent weeks for only selecting three female directors as part of this year’s competition. “Is it going to have a direct impact on the film in competition this year, six months on?” Blanchett asked. “Not specifically. There are several women in competition. They are not there because of their gender. They are there because of the quality of their work. We will assess them as filmmakers, as we should be.”
Blanchett noted that several years ago, Cannes only showed films by two female directors. “Would I like to see more women in competition?” Blanchett said. “Absolutely.” She added that she “hoped” would happen in the future.
This year’s festival has also been overshadowed by another controversy. Cannes blocked Netflix from attending, by mandating that all films in competition must have theatrical distribution in France. But the press conference for the jurors—which includes Kristen Stewart, Ava Duvernay and Denis Villeneuve—sidestepped that hot button issue.
On the Netflix debate, DuVernay only referenced the situation vaguely. She talked about her upbringing in Compton, Calif., and how movies introduced her to different cultures. “It’s so important that we’re inclusive of the different ways we participate in film, whether that’s in a theater or not,” said DuVernay, who directed her documentary “The 13th” for Netflix. “The way that film is presented to the audience doesn’t have a bearing on whether it’s a film.”
Blanchett bristled at a question about how Cannes, which celebrates women in stilettos and glamorous dresses, fits into notions about female equality. “Being attractive doesn’t preclude being intelligent,” she said.
As for her duties on the jury, she said that it would be impossible to actually select a movie as the best. “It’s very hard to sit in judgment of another artist,” she said.
Added Stewart: “On a base level, there are imperfect films that are still great.”
The other members of the jury that will award this year’s Palme d’Or are French actress Lea Seydoux, Taiwanese actor Chang Chen, Burundian singer Khadja Nin, French writer Robert Guediguian and Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev.
Cannes runs through May 19.
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