Use Cannes film fest to liberate women's voices, French minister urges

In April, French minister for gender equality Marlene Schiappa launched a campaign with organisers of the Cannes Film Festival to tackle sexual harassment.
In April, French minister for gender equality Marlene Schiappa launched a campaign with organisers of the Cannes Film Festival to tackle sexual harassment.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (Reuters) - The movie industry must use this week's Cannes Film Festival to "liberate and listen to women's voices" if it is to stamp out sexual harassment, the French minister for gender equality said.

From a hotline to report harassers at the event to flyers urging participants to behave properly, Ms Marlene Schiappa hopes to use the glitz and glamour of Cannes to ramp up the pressure.

The movie industry "has to be part of the solution", she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an e-mail ahead of this year's festival, which she said should be the "basis for liberating and listening to women's voices".

The 71st Cannes Film Festival will run from May 8 to 19 and follows allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein that sparked last year's #MeToo campaign, in which women and men shared their experiences of harassment.

In April, Ms Schiappa launched a campaign with the festival organisers to tackle sexual harassment. Initiatives include a hotline and flyers reading "correct behaviour required" and "don't ruin the party, stop harassment".

Celebrities have used previous film awards this year including Britain's Bafta and the Golden Globes in Los Angeles to wear black outfits in a gesture of protest.

Ms Rachel Krys, co-director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, welcomes the Cannes hotline.

But she said "the system which supports and protects powerful men, rather than helping victims, also has to be dismantled".

The movie industry should also "call time on films which fetishise violence against women and promote a toxic version of masculinity, and instead create art which challenges gender stereotypes and shifts social norms", she added.