Eighty-two women assembled on the steps of the Palais at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday. Led by jury president Cate Blanchett and French director Agnès Varda, these actors, writers, and filmmakers stood in front of cameras to speak out against gender pay disparity and support female voices in the industry.
“On these steps today stand 82 women representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946. In the same period 1,688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs,” Blanchett began. “In the 71 years of this world-renowned festival, there have been 12 female heads of its juries. The prestigious Palme d’Or has been bestowed on 71 male directors — too numerous to mention by name — but only two female directors: Jane Campion, who is with us in spirit, and the wonderful Agnès Varda, who stands with us today. These facts are stark and undeniable.”
Among those present were Blanchett’s fellow jury members Ava DuVernay, Kristen Stewart, Léa Seydoux, and Khadja Nin, as well as Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, Marion Cotillard, Salma Hayek, French actress Leila Bekhti, and The Mummy‘s Sofia Boutella.
Varda spoke alongside Blanchett to offer a French translation of the remarks, which preceded the gala premiere for Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun, the only film in competition at Cannes this year that was directed by a woman.
“Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise,” Blanchett said. “As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these steps today as a symbol of our determination and 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 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,” she 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. And we acknowledge all of the women and men around the world who are standing for change. The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb.”