Some of the prominent female figures in film recently came together at the Cannes Film Festival to protest against lack of female directors at the prestigious awards. While Australian actress Cate Blanchett, who happens to be the president of the Cannes Film Festival jury this year, led 82 women up the steps of the Palais des Festivals for the silent protest, others who joined forces include actor Kristen Stewart, Wonder Woman director Patti Jenkins and A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay.
“Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise,” they said in a statement. “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.”
All of these women came together to highlight that only ‘82’ films by female directors have made it to the festival in seven decades compared to more than 1,600 films directed by men. This year, the official selection features three films directed by women out of a total 21.
“That number is actually not very surprising to me,” media consultant and writer Melissa Silverstein said bluntly on ABC News’ daily podcast. “I’ve been tracking the festival for almost a decade now, and, you know, it’s under 15 percent per year [of festival entries that are by women] ... The fact that it’s that low is an abomination, but it’s consistent.”
While the protesters expressed the need to redefine what it means to be “the best”, festival director Thierry Fremaux said at a press conference post the protest that Cannes would look to select a higher proportion of films directed by women in future.