Nandita, Rasika to join Jane Fonda, Kristen in Cannes protest

Cannes: Indian actresses Nandita Das and Rasika Dugal will join Hollywood stars Kristen Stewart and Jane Fonda among many others in a protest against gender gap at the Cannes Film Festival.

On Saturday night at the red carpet, 82 women intend to make a dramatic statement about how difficult it is to ascend professionally in the film industry, reports vanityfair.com.

The group — including actresses Marion Cotillard and Salma Hayek, directors such as Patty Jenkins, Ava DuVernay and Haifaa Al Mansour, agents like Hylda Queally and Maha Dakhil, and cinema professionals such as Telluride Film Festival programmer Julie Huntsinger and journalist Melissa Silverstein — will climb the steps that lead to the festival’s Theatre Debussy, pause and stand motionless and silent facing the Palais.

The intention, organisers say, is to express how hard it still is to climb the social and professional ladder as woman in the film industry. Among the women, Cate Blanchett and Agnes Varda will read out a statement.

Since the launch of the fest, only 82 films directed by women have been honoured by an official selection in competition, compared to 1,645 films directed by men, a ratio of less than five per cent.

The red carpet statement will unfold ahead of the gala premiere of the only French woman director with a film in competition, Eva Husson, whose movie, “Girls of the Sun”, is about a Kurdish female battalion.

“I hope this Cannes is going to initiate conversations that we need to have,” Husson said, in an interview with Vanity Fair before the festival began.

“It’s high time. It’s healthy. It’s scary. It’s exploding in the face of a lot of people. The patriarchy has not seen it coming. So they feel really threatened by it. It’s a huge paradigm shift.”

Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux alluded to the women’s red carpet plans on Monday, saying a large group of women were going to do something at the festival on Saturday “to affirm their presence”.

The activism will continue on Monday at an event on the beach where the women will ask Fremaux as well as the artistic directors of the Directors’ Fortnight and Cannes Critics’ Week sidebars to the festival to sign a programming pledge for parity and inclusion at Cannes going forward.

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