This year's festival introduced an assault hotline (and some male baristas). But has Cannes really got to grips with the implications of #metoo?by Caspar Salmon / May 19, 2018 / Leave a comment
As Cannes Film Festival draws to a close, it feels only right to ask exactly how successful this year’s edition has been at getting on board the very novel and revolutionary cause of supporting women. Much-bruited initiatives at the festival in 2018 included the introduction of a sexual assault hotline and an event, led by the openly female jury president Cate Blanchett, where 82 women appeared on the steps of the Palais des Festivals to protest the fact that only 82 female directors have ever been selected to appear in competition at Cannes.
The latter occasion seemed a somewhat compromised affair, since it appeared to have the support of the festival itself (and incidentally made for a great photo op). The 82 women appearing weren’t all filmmakers, which perhaps they should have been in order for the protest to take on the requisite symbolism.
Meanwhile, the hotline shut up shop every day at 2 a.m., which, I couldn’t help thinking, was roughly the time that, in previous years, Harvey Weinstein’s night was just getting going in various grand hotels across the town.
What has been done for show, and what the festival really does about the real and urgent topic of discrimination against women, is the distinction that needs to be addressed. Several friends of this writer, upon arriving at one of the pavilions in Cannes, were asked to sign a form stating that they are opposed to sexual assault. This is obvious garbage, a ridiculous sop. While ineffectual contrivances like this go on, the festival is still going about its business of excluding women.
Here are some examples: in the official competition, only three out of 21 films are made by women. Among the lead programmers of the various strands in the festival—Competition, Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight—nobody is a woman. Out of the critics chosen to dole out stars for the various films in the big Screen International grid that determines a film’s ‘buzz’, one is a woman. Same for the critics’ panel in Le Film Francais.
There’s also, in Cannes, a generally retrograde attitude to women which is harder to convey. There’s a seeming desire, always, to hark back to the glamour days of the old festival, seen in the official festival posters, which often fetishise a loosely-defined…