The red carpet of Cannes Film Festival was graced with a march of 82 women, led by this year festival jury president Cate Blanchett. With the song “Woman” by Neneh Cherry playing from the speaker, it was such an iconic and powerful moment to promote gender equality.
The usual eccentric red carpet turned silenced as 82 women powerfully swarmed through in beautiful attires. As the crowd was lining up on steps of Cannes, French festival, DJs tuned up "I'm Every Woman." When the group of women walked down the red carpet, Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)" came on. As they made their way inside the Palais, there was a standing ovation welcoming them from a crowd of up to 2,300 participants. Although a standing ovation is a normal routine before every screening. This one is significantly much longer because of the characteristics of this powerful march. The French movement known as 5050×2020 orchestrated this event. They had the women take a photo together on the red stairs, using that as a symbolism for "how hard it is still to climb the social and professional ladder."
Hours before the red-carpet march, Eva Husson- the director of Girls of the Sun appreciated the decision made by the organizers of the festival to allow the women’s march to coincide with the premiere of her movie. Girls of the Sun is about the story of a group of female fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan taking on ISIS. She thought that it was a clever move of this year panel.
Husson described the selection of her film for the competition as “political” because the majority of their cast and crew are women. At the news conference on April 12, 2018, the festival’s artistic director Thierry Frémaux was asked to comment on the gender disparity in the film industry. His response was: “The movies that were selected were chosen for their quality.” He also added that there would “never be positive discrimination” at the Cannes Festival. An improvement for this year Cannes is that the jury has five women and four men.
On the website 5050×2020, statistics showed that only 23 female directors out of a total of 2,066 directors in France had made one or more films between 2006 and 2016. Statements that echo the spirit of Time's Up and #MeToo movements were written as well: "While French cinema wasn’t shaken by the Weinstein shock wave, it is essential that we move to take concrete action reaching beyond the issue of sexual abuse alone. We believe that the distribution of power needs to be questioned. We believe that equality restores the balance of power. We believe that diversity deeply changes representations. We believe that the opportunity to work in an egalitarian and inclusive environment must be seized because we are certain that the equal sharing of power will promote profound creative renewal."
Ever since the competition first started in 1961, there have only been 82 movies by female directors featured compared to 1645 films by male directors. Only one movie (The Piano Teacher) by a female director (Jane Campion) has ever won the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. Commenting on the shortage of films by women at the festival.
Émouvant, historique, 82 femmes de tous les métiers et pays de cinéma viennent d’ouvrir la Montée des marches de LES FILLES DU SOLEIL d’Eva Husson. #Cannes2018 #Competition . Moving, historic, 82 women from all countries and professions in cinema have just made the red carpet entrance for LES FILLES DU SOLEIL (GIRLS OF THE SUN) by Eva Husson. . . . #cannes71 #festivaldecannes #82femmes #women
Actress Cate Blanchett and her fellow jury members Kristen Stewart and Ava DuVernay, stood alongside the group of women, stating that they should not be the “minority” in this industry. Blanchett and Varda read out a statement, calling out the very few women that have ever been in competition:
"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 1688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs. 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 upon 71 male directors - too numerous to mention by name - but only two women - Jane Campion, who is with us in spirit, and Agnès Varda who stands with us today.”