Cate Blanchett delivered an impassioned speech on the steps of the Palais on Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival, calling for gender equality. The Cannes jury president was joined by 81 other women in the movie industry, including fellow jurors Ava DuVernay, Kristen Stewart, and Léa Seydoux, as well as Patty Jenkins, Salma Hayek, and Marion Cotillard.
The number of participants at the unprecedented red carpet march is a reference to the number of women whose films have competed at Cannes in the history of the prestigious festival. Blanchett said 82 women have climbed the steps of the festival’s central theater, while 1,866 male directors have ascended them since 1942.
“Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise,” Blanchett said, reading from a statement written by her and legendary director Agnes Varda, who delivered the speech in French. “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.”
“We expect our institutions to actively provide parity and transparency in their executive bodies and provide safe environments in which to work,” Blanchett continued. “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 can 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.”
“The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb,” Varda added.
The women erupted in cheers once the speech concluded.
Cannes has come under fire for not acknowledging the #MeToo and Time’s Up initiatives, like other film festivals. Organizers have also been criticized for not promoting female filmmakers more aggressively. Only three of the 18 films in competition this year are from female filmmakers — Cannes’ best showing since 2011.
The march, organized by Time’s Up and the new French movement known as 5020×2020, preceded the premiere for Eva Husson’s “Girls of the Sun,” a drama about Kurdish female freedom fighters.