Organized by 50/50 by 2020, a gender equality movement focusing on increasing women's presence behind and in front of the camera, a total of 82 women, also including Patty Jenkins, Salma Hayek, Agnes Varda and Lea Seydoux, marched silently on the red carpet. Once arriving at the Palais des Festivals steps, Blanchett -- who serves as president of the Cannes Competition jury -- read a speech written by her and Varda.
“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," the Oscar winner began, per Deadline. "In the same period 1688 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."
Blanchett continued by adding that, "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 steps today as a symbol of our determination and our commitment to progress. We are writers, we are producers, we are directors, actresses, cinematographers, talent agents, editors, distributors, sales agents, and all of us are involved in the cinematic arts. And we stand today in solidarity with women of all industries," she stressed.
Challenging institutions, governments, and one another, Blanchett concluded by stating, "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."
Marchers held demonstrations in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and even overseas in cities like Rome, in a political movement that has grown significantly since the presidential election and the #MeToo and Time's Up movement that arose out of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and other high-profile sexual misconduct cases.