This morning, Cannes Film Festival chiefs Thierry Frémaux (Festival Director), Edouard Waintrop (Directors’ Fortnight head) and Charles Tesson (Critics’ Week head) signed a charter for gender parity and inclusion proposed by 5050×2020, France’s version of the #MeToo initiative. Under this new charter, Cannes will compile the gender statistics of all films submitted, make public the list of selection committee members and work towards gender parity on the Cannes board. However, the festival has refused to introduce gender parity in terms of directors of the competition’s selected films—Frémaux believes that the selections should be based on artistic merit alone.
This move towards inclusion follows a demonstration held on May 12th during which female filmmakers, actresses and artists gathered on the stairs of the Palais, the festival’s central theater, in protest for the better treatment and representation of women in the industry. Cate Blanchett, this year’s jury head, was joined by celebrities including Kristen Steweart, Ava DuVernay, Léa Seydoux and Salma Hayek, who has publicly spoken about her personal experiences with Harvey Weinstein. The group of women totaled 82, referencing the shockingly small number of female directors who have been allowed into the Cannes competition since 1942. (In the same amount of time, 1,688 male directors have competed for the Palme D’or, the festival’s highest honor.) This year, only three of the 18 films in competition are by female filmmakers.
“Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry says otherwise,” Blanchett said. “As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress. We are writers, producers, directors, actresses, cinematographers, talent agents, editors, distributors, sales agents and all involved in the cinematic arts.” French film director Agnes Varda also spoke. The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb,” she concluded.