Cannes: Jury Downplays Role of Politics, #MeToo in Picking Palme d'Or

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Cannes Jury members (from left): Kristen Stewart, Jury Presdient Cate Blanchett, and Khadja Nin

"There are several women in competition. They are not there because of their gender, they are there because of the quality of their work," said jury president Cate Blanchett.

Discussion of gender and racial politics have been dominant themes ahead of this year's Cannes Film Festival, the first in the post-#MeToo era.

But at a press conference on Tuesday, the 2018 Cannes jury downplayed the impact today's headlines would have on their pick for the Palme d'Or.

Jury president Cate Blanchett addressed the #MeToo movement head-on, saying profound, lasting change in the film industry would come about through “specific actions (and) not through generalization or pontifications.” She praised efforts to address the gender gap and increase diversity in filmmaking, but said political considerations would not play a role in selecting the winner of the 71st Cannes festival.

“Is it going to have a direct impact on the films in competition this year?” Blanchett said. “Not specifically. There are several women in competition. They are not there because of their gender, they are there because of the quality of their work. We will assess them as filmmakers, as we should be.”

In fact, there are only three women directors in competition this year: Lebanon's Nadine Labaki with Capernaum, France's Eva Husson for Girls of the Sun, and Italian Alice Rohrwacher with Lazzaro Felice. Blanchett said she would “absolutely” like to see more female directors in competition and pointed to changes in the Cannes selection process — a majority of the members of the festival's selection committee are now women — as a hopeful sign. “These things are not going to happen overnight,” Blanchett said. “Our job is to deal with what is in front of us.”

Kristen Stewart, one of the five women on the nine-person jury, noted that in judging this year's Palme d'Or, the “topical nature of films” was important, but “it is more important that in 10 years' time [the film] will still stand up.”

The other members of this year's jury are directors Ava DuVernay, Denis Villeneuve and Andrey Zvyagintsev, French actress Lea Seydoux, Taiwanese actor Chang Chen, Burundian singer Khadja Nin and French writer Robert Guediguian.

Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, kicks off the Cannes competition Tuesday night. The festival runs through May 19.