Flanked by jury members Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux and Ava DuVernay, Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux signed a pledge Monday to increase transparency and promote gender equality during a midday ceremony.
The ranks included a battalion of Oscar winners from Helen Mirren and Marion Cotillard to United States blockbuster directors Ava DuVernay and Patty Jenkins who made "Wonder Woman".
"We hope that it will reinforce the realization that the world is not the same anymore", Fremaux said. In contrast, 1,866 male directors have been selected in the festival's 71-year history. "The world has changed". Hollywood stars including Kristen Stewart, Salma Hayek and Cate Blanchett - who heads the Cannes jury this year - led a protest of actresses, producers and women directors on the red carpet Saturday calling for equality in the industry.
"We are 82 women, representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946".
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Cannes has come under repeated criticism in recent years over its poor record of selecting female filmmakers.
This is the first Cannes festival since allegations of sexual abuse were first made against producer Harvey Weinstein past year. Without Thierry Fremaux saying yes to the pledge, without saying yes to the stairs, we wouldn't be here.
The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing, with swarms of A-List celebrities taking to the red carpet on the French Riviera, to celebrate the 71st annual event.
Its key commitments include the compilation of statistics to record the gender of the filmmakers and key crew of all submissions. Toronto and San Sebastian have already agreed to sign, organizers said, and will host events at their respective film festivals later in the year.
France has the best ratio among the major film-producing countries with 23 per cent of films directed by women. The attendees broke into a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for the Hollywood actress after the signing.