While the Cannes Film Festival has yet to even the playing field when it comes to featuring female-made films, this year’s jury — under the leadership of Jury President Cate Blanchett — is pushing women’s issues to the forefront, most recently with jury member Kristen Stewart bucking against one of the festival's more sexist rules.
Over the weekend, Blanchett led 82 women in a silent protest of the dearth of women who’ve been in competition there since the festival began 71 years ago. Since its inception in 1946, 82 female directors have been in competition at Cannes, versus 1,688 male directors. While Blanchett led women on the jury, including Stewart, Ava DuVernay, Khadja Nin, and Léa Seydoux, in the silent protest, Stewart had her own demonstration against the festival’s medieval rule that women must wear heels on the red carpet.
Dressed like a modern-day Joan of Arc in Chanel, Stewart posed on the red carpet in her Louboutins before whipping them off and ascending the famed steps of the Palais des Festival barefoot.
The conversation about heels on the Cannes red carpet hit a fever pitch in 2015 when women in flats were turned away from a screening of the lesbian-themed Blanchett/Rooney Mara film Carol.
At the time, Emily Blunt denounced the outdated requirement.
“Everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels,” said Blunt, who was there promoting Sicario. “That’s very disappointing, just when you kind of think there are these new waves of equality.”
If there were any question about whether or not Stewart’s shoe removal was pointed, she spoke out about the rule in 2016 where she wore her heels for a photo call before slipping into a pair of black sneakers.
"Things have to change immediately. It has become really obvious that if [a man and I] were walking the red carpet together and someone stopped me and said, 'Excuse me, young lady, you're not wearing heels. You cannot come in.' Then [I'm going to say], 'Neither is my friend. Does he have to wear heels?' It can work both ways," Stewart said. "It's just like you simply cannot ask me to do something that you are not asking him. I get the black-tie thing but you should be able to do either version — flats or heels."