Cannes 2018 comes with strong message about women’s rights

Cannes 2018 saw 82 directors, actors, producers and industry creatives march to highlight women’s rights.

The iconic French film festival is the first one to take place in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which highlighted harassment and inequality within the movie industry.

The red carpet demonstration included Cannes 2018 Jury members Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Salma Hayek.

The protest was supported by a statement from Blanchett, which said: “We are 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.”

Reporting for the BBC, Neil Smith, gave a description of the event, calling it ‘a moment of real heft and resonance.’

The sight of 82 women walking slowly, silently and purposefully up the red-carpeted stars of Cannes’ Grand Theatre Lumiere brought home the shocking under-representation of female film-makers at an event meant to celebrate the totality of world cinema.

The timing was perfect. The evening’s film, Girls of the Sun, not only has a female director but also tells of a commando unit of female fighters in Kurdistan.

Some of the 82 were familiar. Many were not. Together, though, they sent out a powerful statement that both this festival and the industry that sustains it would do well to heed.” – Neil Smith, BBC Reporter.

Protest: Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux, Khadja Nin, Ava DuVernay, Cate Blanchett and Celine Sciamma walk the red carpet in protest of the lack of female filmmakers honored (AFP/Getty Images)

The Cannes protest is the latest major installment in an ongoing debate concerning racial and sexual equality within the movie industry. Vox reported that: The protest was organized by a French movement called 5050×2020, which is calling for 50/50 gender equality in the French film industry by the year 2020. Among the crowd were representatives from feminist and industry pro-equality movements; actresses; filmmakers like Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins; and this year’s female jury members Marion Cotillard, Ava DuVernay, Léa Seydoux, and Khadja Nin.

The significance of this event taking place at the Cannes Film Festival is huge, considering the long-standing traditionalist views of the festival. In 2015 an argument was started over the rights of female attendees not to wear high heels on the red carpet. This shows just how much further things have moved in a very short space of time.

Colin J McCracken
Colin J McCracken

Director and Executive Editor

Colin J McCracken is an Irish editor and writer of both fiction and journalism. Coming from a background in education and film, his passions are split between the environmental and the entertaining. Constantly striving for a more sustainable existence and trying to balance it while simultaneously buying too many books.