Actor Cate Blanchett and director Martin Scorsese opened the Cannes Film Festival Tuesday in the French coastal city.
The 71st French Riviera celebration of cinema and celebrity is the first since the downfall of powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The accusations of sex abuse against him led to a major campaign against sexual wrongdoing in Hollywood and elsewhere.
Scorsese won the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, for his 1976 film, “Taxi Driver.” He is in Cannes this year for an anniversary showing of his 1973 film “Mean Streets.”
Blanchett is this year’s jury president of the festival. She told reporters that gender equality will play a part in this and all future Cannes festivals. Reporters asked Blanchett about the low number of female directors in competition this year; just three out of 21 are women.
“Would I like to see more women in competition? Absolutely. Would I expect and hope that that’s going to happen in the future? I hope so,” Blanchett answered. “But we’re dealing with what we have that’s here.”
The three female directors competing are Nadine Labaki, Eva Husson and Alice Rohrwacher. Competition for the Palme also includes new releases from directors Spike Lee, Pawel Pawlikowski and Jean-Luc Godard.
Cannes has come under criticism for years for not choosing more women directors. Only one female filmmaker, Jane Campion, has won the Palme.
Blanchett said lasting change will only happen with exact actions over time to narrow the gender divide and improve minority representation in filmmaking. The Australian movie star said, “There are several women in competition. But they’re not there because of their gender. They are there because of the quality of their work. We will assess them as filmmakers, as we should.”
Still, Weinstein’s shadow is darkening this year’s festival. For 20 years, Weinstein was a major presence at Cannes. Several of his reported sex crimes are said to have taken place there.
Cannes has established a hotline for sexual harassment victims at the festival. It also will hold a special red carpet on Saturday. About 100 women are expected to attend. Festival director Thierry Fremaux said the event is designed, in his words, “to affirm their presence.”
Among those attending the red carpet will be all five female members of the jury: Ava DuVernay, Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux and Burundian songwriter Khadja Nin.
Fremaux says the Weinstein sex abuse accusations forced the festival to examine itself and do more to improve gender equality.
“It isn’t just the Cannes Film Festival that’s going to change,” he said Tuesday. “The whole world has changed.”
Others have pressured Cannes to accept its part in the issue. Weinstein is accused of raping Italian filmmaker and actor Asia Argento at the 1997 Cannes festival. Weinstein has denied the accusation.
France’s secretary of state in charge of gender equality, Marlene Schiappa, said of the issue: “What emerged in Cannes must be fought in Cannes.
I’m Caty Weaver.
The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
cinema - n. the film industry
celebrity - n. the state of being famous or celebrated
gender - n. the state of being male or female
assess - v. to make a judgment about (something)
shadow - n. dark shape that appears on a surface when someone or something moves between the surface and a source of light (often used figuratively)
affirm - v. to show a strong belief in or dedication to (something, such as an important idea)
hotline - n. a telephone service for the public to use to get help in emergencies