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Female stars demand equality at Cannes

May 12, 2018

Eighty-two female stars at the Cannes Film Festival have staged a red-carpet protest against gender inequality. They also called for "a safe workplace" following allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein.

France, Cannes, "Girls of the Sun"
Image: Reuters/J.-P. Pelissier

Hollywood stars including Cate Blanchett, Jane Fonda and Salma Hayek were among those on Saturday who climbed the steps of the Palais des Festivals to support the "climb for women to the top of the industry."

"Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry says otherwise," said Blanchett, one of five female members of this year's Cannes jury. "We stand together on these steps today as a symbol of our determination to change and progress."

"The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all," she concluded. "Let's climb."

Read more: New German film industry group calls for gender parity

Jane Campion being awarded with the Palme d'Or by French director Jacques Audiard. Campion is the only female filmmaker to ever win the Palme
Jane Campion — the only female to win the Palme d'Or — receiving her award in 2015 Image: Getty Images/AFP/V. Hache

Why 82? The number of women protesting corresponded with the low number of women-directed films playing at the festival's Palme d'Or competition — in contrast to the 1,645 films directed by men.

Gender balance: Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux has repeatedly insisted that the festival chooses its films purely based on quality. But he's also signaled that the festival is reanalyzing its procedures and making its selection committees more equal.

Only one female winner: Cannes has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years over the number of female directors selected to compete for its Palme d'Or, considered one of the most esteemed achievements in cinema. Jane Campion is the only female filmmaker to ever win the Palme.

Read more: German film industry addresses gender inequality at the Berlinale

Saturday's protest was held ahead of the premiere of "Girls of the Sun," directed by female French filmmaker Eva Husson. The movie stars Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani who plays a Kurdish female fighter who commands a battalion of entirely female soldiers.

Husson is one of three female filmmakers out of the 21 directors in competition for the Palme d'Or this year. The other two — Nadine Labaki's "Capernaum," and Alice Rohrwacher's "Happy as Lazzaro" — are set to premiere next week.

Fact Check: Women in creative industries

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kw/rc (AP, AFP)