Cannes jury members Khadja Nin and Ava DuVernay and this year’s jury president, Cate Blanchett, walk the red carpet in protest of the lack of female filmmakers honored throughout the history of the Cannes Film Festival at the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) at the Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Photo: Andreas Rentz (Getty Image)

Liberté, egalité, fraternité (“liberty, equality, fraternity”) is France’s motto, and equality has appropriately emerged as the theme of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, taking place May 8-19 on the French Riviera.

This year’s nine-member Main Competition Jury boasts five women, including Ava DuVernay, Burundian singer-songwriter Khadja Nin and this year’s jury president, actress Cate Blanchett. (It’s also worth noting that one-third of the jury is of color—Taiwanese actor Chang Chen rounds out three of the nine.)

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However, that gender equality hasn’t extended to the rest of the internationally renowned competition; in its 71-year history, only 82 films competing in the Official Selection category have been directed by women, compared with 1,645 films directed by men.

To draw attention to this disparity and promote gender equality in the film industry, on Saturday night, 82 women from the film industry—including all five of the female jurors and some of international film’s most respected talent, like actresses Marion Cotillard, Salma Hayek, Kristen Stewart, Léa Seydoux, Sofia Boutella and director Patty Jenkins—walked arm in arm up the red carpet and ascended the iconic steps of the Palais des Festivals.

It was a symbolic gesture of solidarity and a mostly silent protest, fittingly staged prior to the premiere of Eva Husson’s drama Girls of the Sun, about Kurdish female fighters. Husson is only one of three female filmmakers out of those representing the 21 movies competing for the Palme d’Or this year. After the women were assembled on the steps, Jury President Blanchett read the following statement:

On these steps today stand 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. In the 71 years of this world-renowned festival there have been 12 female heads of its juries. The prestigious Palme d’Or has been bestowed upon 71 male directors—too numerous to mention by name—but only two women—Jane Campion, who is with us in spirit, and Agnès Varda, who stands with us today.

These facts are stark and undeniable. Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise. As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress. We are writers, producers, directors, actresses, cinematographers, talent agents, editors, distributors, sales agents and all involved in the cinematic arts. We stand in solidarity with women of all industries

We will expect our institutions to actively provide parity and transparency in their executive bodies and safe environments in which to work. We will expect our governments to make sure that the laws of equal pay for equal work are upheld. We will demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so that they can best reflect the world in which we actually live. A world that allows all of us behind and in front of the camera to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues. We acknowledge all of the women and men who are standing for change. The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb.

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Filmmakers clap after jury head Cate Blanchett, with other filmmakers, read a statement on the steps of the red carpet in protest of the lack of female filmmakers honored throughout the history of the festival.
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain (Getty Images)

This show of strength in numbers purportedly had the support of the Cannes Film Festival; prior to the demonstration, festival director Thierry Frémaux called it a way for women “to affirm their presence.” The gesture itself was orchestrated by the French arm of the 50/50 by 2020 movement, whose use of Cannes’ red stairs was intended to show the difficulty women still have in attempting to climb the professional ladder. The organization’s website states:

We believe that the distribution of power needs to be questioned. We believe that equality restores the balance of power. We believe that diversity deeply changes representations. We believe that the opportunity to work in an egalitarian and inclusive environment must be seized because we are certain that the equal sharing of power will promote profound creative renewal.

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The group 50/50 by 2020’s American counterpart counts Lena Waithe, Lupita Nyong’o, Rosario Dawson, Shonda Rhimes and Rashida Jones among its advisers. Working in tandem with the Time’s Up movement, 50/50 by 2020 is working toward inclusion and intersectionality in multiple aspects across the film industry, addressing issues of gender, race, sexuality, ability and abuse. On Monday, they will hold a conference with other women’s groups, including both American and English factions of Time’s Up, Dissenso Comune (Italy), CIMA (Spain) and Greek Women’s Wave.


On Sunday, all eyes turned to the catwalk for the Fashion for Relief event at Cannes’ Mandelieu Hangar. Now in its 13th year, Fashion for Relief raises funds for environmental and humanitarian causes via various charity events held in conjunction with the nonprofit human rights organization CARE. Its much-anticipated events—which have thus far taken place in Cannes; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; London; Moscow; Mumbai, India; and New York City—are hosted by spokeswoman and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

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This year’s theme was Race to Equality, focusing on education, health and culture, and in support of Save the Children and the Time’s Up movement, among other charities. The evening’s event included a gala dinner, live auction and runway show, which featured Campbell alongside top models and talent like Maria Borges, Leomie Anderson, Winnie Harlow, Dilone and Jussie Smollett.

The runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Bella Hadid, Naomi Campbell and Natalia Vodianova walk the Runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Naomi Campbell walks the Runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Dilone walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Maria Borges walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Winnie Harlow walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Mario Balotelli walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Aamito Lagum walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Winnie Harlow walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Damaris Goddrie walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Tami Williams walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Leomie Anderson walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Maria Borges walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Dilone walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Aamito Lagum walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Leomie Anderson walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Naomi Campbell walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Damaris Goddrie attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Dilone attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Model Winnie Harlow attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Natalia Vodianova, Edward Enninful and Naomi Campbell attend Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Spike Lee attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Models Tami Williams and Shanniel Williams attend Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Model Leomie Anderson attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Model Maria Borges attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Virgil Abloh attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Cindy Bruna attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Cindy Bruna attends Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Models walk the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jussie Smollett walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
A model walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
A model walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
A model walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
A model walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
A model walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Ousmane walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Noah Brown Stoller walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Shanniel Williams walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Asianna Scott walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Ousmane walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
A model walks the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Models walk the runway at Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Aeroport Cannes Mandelieu on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.

But of course, aside from the films, what Cannes is best known for is its red carpet, where stars from around the world gather to make statements as big as those on-screen. This year was no different; the film and fashion elite showed up and showed out in showstopping style. As is our fashion, we’ve found all the pops of color during the first six days of the 12-day international festival. We’ll be sure to check back in after the close of Cannes, but until then, let’s live a little vicariously on the French Riviera. See you on the other side ...

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Lupita Nyong’o attends the screening of Sorry Angel (Plaire, Aimer Et Courir Vite) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 10, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Lupita Nyong’’o attends the screening of Sorry Angel (Plaire, Aimer Et Courir Vite) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 10, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jury member Ava DuVernay walks onstage at the opening ceremony during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 8, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jury member Ava DuVernay, attends the screening of Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben) and the opening gala during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 8, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Aishwarya Rai attends the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Chantel Jeffries attends the screening of Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben) and the opening gala during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 8, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Aja Naomi King attends the screening of Sorry Angel (Plaire, Aimer Et Courir Vite) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 10, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jury members Kristen Stewart, Ava DuVernay, jury head Cate Blanchett, Lea Séydoux and Khadja Nin attend the jury photo call during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 8, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Naomi Campbell attends a Dior dinner during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at JW Marriott on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Winnie Harlow attends a Dior dinner during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at JW Marriott on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Winnie Harlow attends a Dior dinner during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at JW Marriott on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Actress Aja Naomi King attends the screening of Ash Is the Purest White (Jiang Hu Er Nv) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Joan Smalls attends the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Joan Smalls attends the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jasmine Tookes attends the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jasmine Tookes attends the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jury member Khadja Nin arrives at the Gala dinner during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 8, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Antonio Fargas from the serie Cherif attends a photocall during the 1st Cannes International Series Festival on April 6, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Model Leomie Anderson attends the screening of Yomeddine during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 9, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Chantel Jeffries attends the screening of Yomeddine during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 9, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Actor Michael B. Jordan attends the screening of Farenheit 451 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Camila Coelho attends the screening of Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben) and the opening gala during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 8, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Helen Mirren attends the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Raica Oliveira attends the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jasmine Tookes attends Chopard Secret Night during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Chateau de la Croix des Gardes on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Jasmine Tookes, Stella Maxwell and Joan Smalls attend Chopard Secret Night during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Chateau de la Croix des Gardes on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Joan Smalls attends Chopard Secret Night during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Chateau de la Croix des Gardes on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Leomie Anderson attends the Chopard Gentleman’s Evening at Hotel Martinez on May 9, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Model Richard Ampaw attends the Chopard Gentleman’s Evening at Hotel Martinez on May 9, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Lupita Nyong’o attends Chopard Secret Night during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Chateau de la Croix des Gardes on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Lupita Nyong’o attends Chopard Secret Night during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Chateau de la Croix des Gardes on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Actor Michael B. Jordan attends the photo call for Farenheit 451 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Director Ryan Coogler (right) and Zinzi Evans attend the photocall for Rendezvous With Ryan Coogler during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 10, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Actresses Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong’o attend the photocall for 355 during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Majestic Beach Pier on May 10, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Naomi Campbell attends the Fashion for Relief Cannes 2018 photocall during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Martinez Hotel on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Tina Kunakey and Vincent Cassel attend the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Model Tina Kunakey attends the screening of Girls of the Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Singer-songwriter Vanessa White attends the Magnum VIP Party during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Magnum Beach on May 10, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Vanessa White attends the Magnum VIP Party during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Magnum Beach on May 10, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Bruna Marquezine attends the ladies luncheon announcing the new partnership between Chopard and the Naked Heart Foundation at Hotel Martinez on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Actress Stefi Celma attends the screening of Ash Is the Purest White (Jiang Hu Er Nv) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Director Wanuri Kahiu, actresses Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva attend the photocall for Rafiki during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 9, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Actress Deepika Padukone attends the screening of Ash Is the Purest White (Jiang Hu Er Nv) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Bruna Marquezine attends the screening of Sink or Swim (Le Grand Bain) during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 13, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Actress Samantha Mugatsia, director Wanuri Kahiu and actress Sheila Munyiva attend the screening of Leto during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 9, 2018, in Cannes, France.
Actresses Sheila Munyiva, Samantha Mugatsia and director Wanuri Kahiu from the film Rafiki attend the screening of Leto during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 9, 2018, in Cannes, France.