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Cannes 2018: Cate Blanchett speaks about equality at 'gladiatorial' festival

09 May 2018

The announcement came on the eve of the opening of the world's biggest film festival, which like the rest of the cinema industry has been profoundly shaken by the scandal engulfing Hollywood tycoon Harvey Weinstein.

But it was her soulful turn in Abdellatif Kechiche's epic lesbian love story "Blue is the Warmest Colour", which unusually captured the Palme d'Or for the director and the two leads, that made her a Cannes fixture.

The affair has prompted the film festival to set up an anti-sexual harassment hotline this year.

The award-winning actress also premiered her first short film as a director, "Come Swim", at the festival a year ago.

South Africa and Kenya both have films in competition for the Uncertain Regard portion of the fest, which is considered a showcase for emerging talent. According to Ms. Blanchett, profound and lasting impact can happen through raising specific issues than mere "generalisations and pontifications".

Given the turn of events in the showbiz in the last one year, it wasn't unexpected to have #MeToo questions thrown at the members of the jury. They are here because of the quality of work.

When the jury was asked about the fact that only three of the 21 films in competition were directed by women, Blanchett responded, "A few years ago there were only two, and I know the selection committee has more women on board than in previous years, which will obviously change the lens through which the films are chosen".

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Still, the shadow of disgraced film mogul Weinstein is looming over this year's Cannes. "We will assess them as filmmakers, as we should", she said.

Twilight's Kristen Stewart, Burundian songwriter Khadja Nin and French actress Lea Seydoux are among the other members of this year's jury. "Being attractive doesn't preclude being intelligent", she said. "This is by its very nature a glamorous, fantastic, spectacular festival".

DuVernay, the filmmaker of "Selma" and the Netflix documentary "13th", said that the power of movies is the ability to "speak to each other through cinema". "It has been irritating to me to think that I'm in Cannes because I'm a woman filmmaker and that now, with everything that's happening, the world has chose to put females in the spotlight". Speaking about the somewhat ridiculous task of picking the "best" piece of work in a medium so subjective, Blanchett said, "You have to accept that the task is impossible. without having a single conversation about any of the films here, I can say that we will disappoint and confound". Several Netflix titles, including Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" and the recently completed Orson Welles film "The Other Side of the Wind", had been expected to premiere this year.

Also likely absent from Cannes will be two filmmakers living under house arrest in their home countries.

Another Iranian with a movie in competition, Jafar Panahi, will be unable to attend the festival as he is officially banned from film-making by his government. Here are some milestones over the years when they did recognize the contributions of women.

Pointedly, however, he has not risked giving von Trier a press conference this time for his new serial killer flick, "The House That Jack Built" with Uma Thurman and Matt Dillon.

Amidst the less starry line-up at the festival, the new "Star Wars" spin-off, "Solo" is the only Hollywood blockbuster.

Cannes 2018: Cate Blanchett speaks about equality at 'gladiatorial' festival