Cannes: Cate Blanchett Says "We're Still Living in Deeply Conservative Times"

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The actress was speaking at the press conference for Todd Haynes' well-received lesbian romance 'Carol.'

Halfway through the Cannes film festival and, if the press conference applause on Sunday is anything to go by, Carol is looking like one of the favorites for the Palme d'Or.

In stark contrast to The Sea of Trees media meet the day before, which was a more tense affair, the assembled cast and production team members of Todd Haynes’ lesbian romance were welcomed to a cacophony of cheers, especially for its main star Cate Blanchett and cinematographer Ed Lachman.

With a female-led cast and producers including Elizabeth Karson and Christine Vachon on the panel, Blanchett responded to the suggestion that the film indicated how the gender balance was improving in filmmaking.

“Well, I think it needs to be very much at the center of the conversation,” she said. “There was an article in the International New York Times saying that it was ‘the year of La Femme’ [in Cannes]. You hope it’s not just the year, it’s not some sort of fashionable moment.”

Blanchett added that the gender debate “fell off the agenda.” She also said: “I think we lost a lot of ground. But it’s wonderful that there are female producers who are wanting to make intelligent, entertaining films.”

Referring to the film’s homosexual subject matter, Blanchett warned that, while Carol was set in the 1950s when homosexual relationships were still illegal in the U.S., it was important not to think such prejudice was now extinct. “There are still many, many countries around the world where it is illegal," the star said. "We’re still living in deeply conservative times, and if you think otherwise you’re very foolish.”

Blanchett herself caused a stir earlier this week following an interview in which she appeared to admit to having had lesbian relationships in the past.

“The conversation ran, ‘Have you had relationships with women?’ and I said ‘Yes, many times, but if you mean have I had sexual relations with women the answer's ‘no’. That obviously didn’t make it into print,” she said.