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Cannes film festival unveils equality charter in push for gender parity

Category: Women and Culture 

A new charter aimed at improving gender parity at the Cannes film festival, and which is expected to be adopted by other leading film festivals, has been unveiled.

Under the charter, the Cannes film festival will record the gender of the cast and crew of all films submitted, make public the names of selection committee members and work towards gender parity on the Cannes board.

However, the festival stopped short of promising to introduce gender parity in terms of directors of films selected, confirming festival director Thierry Frémaux’s long-held position that the selections should be based on “artistic merit” alone.


Cate Blanchett and Kristen Stewart join silent women's protest on Cannes red carpet 

The clause was signed by Frémaux, Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight artistic director Édouard Waintrop and Critics’ Week artistic director Charles Tesson at an event held jointly with the French culture ministry and the country’s 5050x2020 equality movement. In attendance was this year’s festival jury, which includes president Cate Blanchett, as well as Kristen Stewart and Ava DuVernay.

Speaking at the event, Frémaux said that Cannes needed to question its own “practices, traditions, habits, and history. Cannes has stats that speak for themselves – and in a negative way,” he admitted.

Frémaux said that by being transparent Cannes would respond to issues of diversity and parity while still using “its own editorial and strategic judgment” in selecting films.

“The festival can commit to changing things by signing this charter … We hope that this will reinforce this realisation that the world is no longer the same,” Frémaux added.

Cannes has sought to defuse criticism over a perceived lack of equality in its lineup at this year’s festival. Only three of the 21 films in the running for this year’s Palme d’Or were directed by women, while Jane Campion, for her 1993 film The Piano, remains the only woman to have won the Palme.


On Saturday, with the support of the festival, 82 women in film, including Blanchett, DuVernay and Jane Fonda, silently walked the Cannes red carpet to represent the 82 female film-makers whose works have appeared in the festival’s official competition since the festival’s founding. Some 1,645 male directors have seen their films selected in competition in that time.

The announcement of the charter was preceded by a discussion featuring gender equality movements including Time’s Up, UK organisation Women in Film & TV and the Greek group Greek Women’s Wave. Among the topics covered were the lack of compelling roles for women in film, the gender imbalance among film critics and the need for better guidelines around the filming of sex scenes.


Speaking to the Guardian at the conclusion of the event, Women in Film & TV chief executive Kate Kinninmont said that the pledge was a “fantastic starting point”, but added that the wider film industry needed to do more to increase the number of women working within it.



“If there were equal numbers of men’s and women’s films to choose from it would make the job of festivals a lot easier,” she said. “By the time we come to the festivals that’s just an endpoint.

There a lots and lots of women directors who haven’t had a chance yet. In the next couple of years we will see them and then I think the festival will have no trouble doing 50/50 selections.”

It is believed that the transparency charter will be adopted by other international film festivals such as Sundance, Venice and Berlin.



Tags: gender parity Cannes film festival

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