The opening press conference at the 71st Cannes Film Festival quickly established that this year was going to be unlike any other. Cate Blanchett as president of the Cannes Competition Jury set the tone for the festival in the wake of the #MeToo movement by shutting down sexist questions and stealing the show with her fellow female powerhouses on the panel.
The nine-person panel is responsible for choosing which films will win the festival’s most prestigious awards. In previous years, it’s been predominantly male dominated and mostly white, although Cate laid down the law before accepting her position as the twelfth female jury president.
She commented: ‘I said [to Cannes director Thierry Frémaux] we really need gender and racial parity [in the jury].’
And thankfully, she got her way. This year, the panel is dominated by women, including actresses Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, director Ava DuVernay, artist Khadja Nin as well as male directors Robert Guédiguian, Denis Villeneuve, Andrey Zvyagintsev and Taiwanese actor Chang Chen.
After the press snapped a shot of the five ladies standing side by side, Twitter promptly exploded in the face of so much excellence. Besides serving up real talk in the press conference, they served some major looks on the blue carpet dressed in no-nonsense power suits, bold colours and a fierce headpiece courtesy of Khadja.
Despite this impressive panel of women, Cannes still has much work to do in order to solve its gender and racial divide – an issue that the festival has faced increasingly as the years have gone by. This year, only three of the 21 films had female film directors, a deficiency that Cate was forced to address at the press conference.
She said, ‘ I know the selection committee has more women on board than in previous years, which will obviously change the lens through which the films are chosen. But these things are not going to happen overnight . . . would I like to see more women in competition? Absolutely. Do I expect and hope that is going to happen in the future? I hope so.’
We hope so too. The world needs more stories about women by women, especially now that Hollywood’s shining a light into the dark corners that toxic masculinity has long revelled in.
Read more at Marie Claire UK.