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Cannes 2018: Nandita Das, Rasika Dugal join Cate Blanchett, Ava DuVernay, Kristen Stewart for women's march

Eighty-two women from the global film industry stood in protest on the steps of the Palais theatre in Cannes for gender equality on Saturday.

Sonal Pandya

Women from film industries around the world made a strong statement at Cannes about the festival's inclusion of woman filmmakers and their continuing fight for gender equality.

Indian filmmaker Nandita Das and actress Rasika Dugal joined 80 other women, including Cannes jury members Cate Blanchett, Ava DuVernay and Kristen Stewart, for a women's march.

The powerful protest was held before the world premiere of Eva Husson’s Girls Of The Sun starring Golshifteh Farahani. The protestors chose the number 82 to represent the 82 woman filmmakers who have had their films represented at the French festival since 1946.

By comparison, 1,688 male directors have been chosen to present their films in the festival's 71-year history. Only two female directors, Jane Campion and Agnès Varda, have won the Palme d'Or.

Das and Dugal presented their film Manto (2018), starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in the Un Certain Regard section on 13 May. They stood with other international actresses like Salma Hayek and Marion Cotillard, filmmakers like Patty Jenkins and Agnès Varda, and executives to lend their support to the global fight for gender equality which has grown exponentially since last year. 

Rasika Dugal with filmmaker Patty Jenkins and actresses Salma Hayek and Sofia Bouterra

Dugal, who stars in Manto as his wife Safia, said of the march, "There are very few times when you are part of a historical moment and you know it. This was one of those. It was a very emotional experience holding hands and walking in solidarity with 82 women at Cannes. Not much was said, yet many of us were moved to tears. The unspoken regard and understanding and solidarity for the challenges we have all had to face to be here was so so powerful."

She continued: "It was my first time at the Palais de festivals red carpet at the Cannes film festival and I shared that moment with Salma Hayek, Patty Jenkins, Nandita Das and so many other women. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction. Cate Blanchett's powerful speech just made me feel more than ever how important this is. I mean, we know there is rampant gender discrimination and we face it every day (in so so many small things), but just to have the numbers like that makes me feel like it's about time!"

Hayek and Dugal

The march was organized by the French movement 5050×2020, which wanted to use the red carpeted stairs to symbolize the "social and professional ladder" women have to wrestle with in the film industry.

Blanchett, who is the jury president, and Varda read out a list of demands that include gender parity and transparency, and a call for equal pay for equal work.