It’s 2018 and women in Hollywood have had enough.
After the Harvey Weinstein scandal ushered in the powerful #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in the industry, a handful of A-list actresses and directors are taking a step further by using one of the most prominent film festivals to fight for gender equity.
According to The Wrap, Kristen Stewart, Jane Fonda, Ava DuVernay, and a group of 82 of their peers plan to protest gender inequity in Hollywood at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night. The group supposedly includes a swath of female heavyweights in Hollywood from actresses like Salma Hayek to directors like Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins and activist-journalists like Melissa Silverstein. It’s all part of a demonstration that was planned weeks before the festival opened by growing “50/50 by 2020” movement — a collective launched on the heels of the #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund which aims for equal representation across the spectrum in Hollywood by 2020.
According to the “50/50 by 2020” initiative, 96 percent of directors are men, 87 percent are white, and 81 percent of studio board members are men. The movement aims to address these glaring imbalances in the industry and to correct other issues in Hollywood, like the lack of roles for women of color and disabled actors.
At Cannes, Stewart and DuVernay — who are serving on the festival’s jury this year — will be joined by women in Hollywood to shine a spotlight on this growing issue. The group reportedly plans to climb the steps of the Palais de Festival and hold a silent vigil, signifying how difficult it is to climb the ladder of success as a woman in the industry. The protest will take place before the premiere of the film, Girls of the Sun, a movie in competition by Eva Husson, one of only three female filmmakers to have their work selected by the festival committee this year.
As depressing as the lack of women in power is when it comes to Hollywood, the Cannes Festival, in particular, has a dismal track record when it comes to celebrating the achievements of female filmmakers. Only 4.3 percent of competition films were directed by women over the course of the festival’s first 71 years and only one female filmmaker has won the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. The festival has also come under scrutiny for its archaic dress code when it comes to its female attendees. Stewart made headlines at last year’s gathering after calling attention to the rule that stated women were required to wear heels to film premieres during the festival.
Hopefully, this protest will help to initiate change, not just at Cannes, but industry-wide.