Cate Blanchett and her gang are coming for you.
Yesterday’s opening press conference at the 71st Cannes Film Festival quickly established that this year was going to be unlike any other. With Cate Blanchett as president of the Cannes Competition Jury, she set the tone for the festival in the wake of the #MeToo movement by shutting down sexist questions and stealing the show with her fellow female powerhouses on the panel.
According to Vanity Fair, a male reporter at the press conference asked, ‘Why do movies still matter?’
The question was said to be directed to the mostly male filmmakers on the jury, which Cate quickly shut down with a sarcastic quip. Turning to her fellow panel members Kristen Stewart and Léa Seydoux, she said, ‘So actresses, don’t answer that because you have no idea how to.’
The nine person panel is responsible for choosing which films will win the festival’s most prestigious awards. In previous years, it’s been predominantly male dominated and mostly white though Cate laid down the law before accepting her position as the twelfth female jury president.
She said, ‘I said [to Cannes director Thierry Fremaux] we really need gender and racial parity [in the jury].’
And thankfully, she got her way. This year, the panel is dominated by women including actresses Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, director Ava DuVernay, artist Khadja Nin as well as male directors Robert Guediguian, Denis Villenueve, Andrewy Zvyagintsev and Taiwanese actor Chang Chen.
After the press snapped a shot of the five ladies standing side by side, Twitter promptly exploded in the face of so much excellence. Besides serving up real talk in the press conference, they served some major looks on the blue carpet dressed in no-nonsense power suits, bold colours and a fierce headpiece courtesy of Khadja.
Despite this fierce panel of women, Cannes still has a lot of work to do in order to solve its gender and racial divide – an issue that the festival has faced increasingly as the years have gone by. This year, only three of the twenty one films had female film directors which Cate was forced to address at the press conference.
She said, ‘ I know the selection committee has more women on board than in previous years, which will obviously change the lens through which the films are chosen. But these things are not going to happen overnight . . . would I like to see more women in competition? Absolutely. Do I expect and hope that is going to happen in the future? I hope so.’
We hope so too. The world needs more stories about women by women, especially now that Hollywood’s shining a light into the dark corners that toxic masculinity has long revelled in.