The Cannes Film Festival: Women in Film Take A Stand

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Last Tuesday marked the beginning of Cannes, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. The event runs until 19 May and is set to feature some of the best films made this year, including Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, starring husband and wife Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.

The event this year comes at a dramatic and positive time, both within the industry and the global conversation on equality. It is the first Cannes Film Festival held after more than 50 women came forward accusing Harvey Weinstein and other big Hollywood names of sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault.

Image from E! Entertainment Television

As more and more women come forward to tell their stories, they are no longer perceived as ‘crazy,’ but rather as human beings who endured traumatic experiences. It has become a time where more men are stepping aside and allowing women to tell their stories instead of telling it for them. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily happening in the quantities or the frequency hoped for, so more pushing must occur and more toes must be stepped on until more progress is made.

In this year’s Cannes Film Festival, women stood in solidarity with equality for women. Salma Hayek, Kristen Stewart and Penelope Cruz were among the 82 women - along with Cate Blanchett (who is the president of the jury in this year’s festival) - speaking to the press not of their dresses or of their films; rather their struggle and the struggle of women in most (if not all) industries.

Image from E! Entertainment Television

“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,” Blanchette said; signifying the disparity in the sheer number of male filmmakers versus female filmmakers. She goes on to state that while the prestigious Palme d’Or has been given to 71 male directors, it has only been given to two of their female counterparts.

These women are not children crying for equal attention nor are they unjustified in their claims; they have decided to step up the rhetoric in order to convey what they mean in every manner possible. It is no longer about a hypothetical conversation where equality is debated; it has become about numbers and representation. As with many women’s movements appearing during the last year or so, the approach here seems different; they do not seem to be planning to give up anytime soon and they will not be silenced until they get what is rightfully theirs: respect.

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