Eighty-two women walked the Cannes red carpet up on Saturday, May 12. Many women had already walked the red carpet over the past five days, but these women were significant.
Eighty-two represents the number of films by female directors (include seven in mixed-gender teams) that have premiered in competition at Cannes in its 71-year history. Compare this to the 1,645 films by male directors that have premiered in competition at Cannes.
Following great pressure from actresses, activists, other film festivals, and other industry members, the Cannes Film Festival has announced initiatives to bring gender parity to Cannes as well as quash sexual harassment at the festival.
The group walking the red carpet included the juror Kristen Stewart, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, Salma Hayek, Marion Cotillard, producer Julie Huntsinger, director Haifaa Al Mansour, and Jane Fonda.
Cate Blanchett, the head of the majority-female jury, has been vocal in her support for gender parity. She and French director Agnes Varda, a film legend, read statements in English and French, respectively, at the top of the steps above the red carpet where all 82 women had gathered together.
“We expect our institutions to actively provide parity and transparency in their executive bodies and provide safe environments in which to work,” declared Blanchett. “We expect our governments to make sure that the laws of equal pay for equal work are upheld. We demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so that they can best reflect the world in which we actually live. A world that allows all of us in front and behind the camera, all of us, to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues.”
The group of women then attended the Girls of the Sun premiere, a film that tells the true story of a group of female anti-extremist Kurdish soldiers.