Celebrities

Time’s Up For Unequal Gender Representation In The Film Industry (And Everywhere Else)

Every year, the Cannes Film Festival, a two-week spectacle, showcases the best of the best in the film industry.

Talented film directors from all over the globe are allotted the opportunity to distinguish their talents at the spectacle before a panel of judges and the world. The harsh reality is that out of all the films ever showcased at Cannes since 1946, only 82 were directed by women. This grossly minuscule number comes in contrast to the 1,866 films displayed at the festival directed by men. This year alone, only three of the 21 films featured at the event were directed by women.

On Saturday night, in an unexpected protest for gender equality in the film industry, 82 women climbed the steps of the Palais De Festivals.

The demonstration represented the number of female directors selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. An array of prominent, diverse film professionals participated, including actress Salma Hayek and honorary Palme d’Or recipient, French director Agnes Varda. Also “climbing the steps” in solidarity, were five women on the Cannes jury panel: Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart, Ava DuVenray, Lea Seydoux and singer Khadja Nin. Organizers from the TimesUp movement and the French 5020×2020 movement claimed the demonstration was orchestrated to convey

How hard it is to still climb the social and professional ladder for women.

During the protest the president of the 2018 jury, Blanchett, read a statement in English atop the Palais. Varda translated in French.

Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry says otherwise…We stand together on these steps today as a symbol of our determination to change and progress. The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb.

-Cate Blanchett 

Festival director Thierry Fremaux explained the event was a way for women to “affirm their presence.” Fremaux implied Cannes may be reanalyzing its procedures to ensure future selections are gender-balanced. Regardless, Fremaux has repeatedly insisted that films are selected by the committee purely on the basis of artistic quality, however, statistics show otherwise. Over the past seven decades, Jane Campion is the only female film-maker to win a Palme. Saturday night was not the first time Cannes has been scrutinized for the scarce amount of female directors selected to be featured as a part of its main agenda. Recently, light has been shed on the unbalance of gender equality in the festival, as well as, the entertainment industry.

In a world where women are oppressed because of their gender, the entertainment industry plays a crucial role.

From music and books to films, entertainment is a prominent fixture in our daily lives. According to film specialist Richard Williams, cinema and other mediums of entertainment have the ability to change society for the better through Social Impact Entertainment (SIE). This concept applies the principles of the “Marigold Effect,” a cultural phenomenon named after researchers discovered that a significant portion of 60+ viewers of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ” had suddenly been inspired to volunteer and aid underprivileged youth.

The use of entertainment to have a positive impact on society and communities, people intentionall trying to efffect social change, and using entertainment as the delivery system for that change.

-Williams on the meaning of Social Impact Entertainment at Advertising Week Europe

In short, SIE is defined as using the power of entertainment and the performing arts to inspire positive societal change. The fight for gender equality has been going on for the better part of two centuries. Long gone are the days where women fought for their right to vote, yet here we still are protesting; advocating for unalienable rights that should’ve never been infringed upon, yet persist. In this society, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are correlated with negative consequences if you’re a woman. Protests such as the one at Cannes, the MeToo movement and the demonstrations seen in sources of entertainment through the public eye, lead the world by example.

Normalizing and promoting gender equality in the entertainment industry will hopefully ease and accelerate its incorporation into daily life.

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