In India, marches are a familiar form of protest. It was Gandhiji who made marches the weapon of choice against an enemy so powerful. He knew the only choice he had was to provoke and inspire the silent majority to join the movement. Likewise, now that the #MeToo campaign has unpredictably snowballed into a global voice against sexual harassment, a women’s march on the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival wasn’t out of place.
Not many know that in 71 years of the Cannes festival, only 82 women have walked those prestigious red-carpeted stairs as directors, as part of the official selection of the festival. In comparison, 20 times more men have—1,645 of them. Though I am delighted to be among the five per cent who have had that honour, this discrepancy is shameful. It is reflective of the historical wrong and bias that are still prevalent in the developed world.
Since my college days, I have been participating in women’s marches, usually on March 8, for International Women’s Day. I have marched with rural women, urban women, tribal girls and college girls and sometimes all of them together, though that world has always been far away from the glitzy world of cinema. But my two worlds collided on May 12. It was an incomparable feeling, being on the Cannes red carpet with only women and that too with editors, screenwriters, producers, sales agents marching alongside the usual suspects. All of us wore small badges that said ‘50/50 by 2020’. While it is unlikely that we can achieve this dream in two years, the demand for equality has been expressed, loud and clear. It cannot be ignored anymore.
After walking up the stairs, we stopped midway. Actor and this year’s jury president, Cate Blanchett, and Agnes Varda, the Nouvelle Vague French filmmaker, read out their impassioned speech....