AceShowbiz - Cate Blanchett, Salma Hayek and Kristen Stewart were among the Hollywood stars involved in a silent protest on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. The Oscar-winning actress led the 82 actress, female producers and directors who marched arm in arm in the unprecedented protest on Friday, May 11 to demand equal pay and an end to sexual harassment.
Organized by gender equality movement 50/50 by 2020, Ava DuVernay, Jane Fonda, and "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins were among the group that walked in silence along the red carpet before stopping halfway up the steps of the entrance to the Palais des Festivals.
The protest was intended to highlight the difficulties for women in Hollywood "to climb the social and professional ladder" and also to urge a safer workplace for all, seven months after the New York Times expose on disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is accused of rape and sexual harassment.
Only 82 films directed by women have been selected for the festival's prestigious Palme d'Or competition in its 71-year history, compared with 1,645 directed by men.
Blanchett, who heads the jury at the film festival this year, said of the protest, "We demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so they can best reflect the world in which we live." She said her fellow female stars were calling for "a world that allows all of us, in front and behind the camera, to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues."
Blanchett concluded, "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."
Jane Campion is the only female director to have won the Palme d'Or, for her 1993 film "The Piano". Festival director Thierry Fremaux supported the march as a way for women "to affirm their presence".
Earlier on Friday, France's minister for gender equality, Marlene Schiappa, revealed that several women attending the event had called a special helpline for women to report sexual harassment at the festival. The line was set up for the first time this year following four alleged attacks at the festival in previous years by Weinstein who has denied the claims.