Cate Blanchett, Ava DuVernay, Patty Jenkins, Kristen Stewart, Marion Cotillard, Salma Hayek and Agnes Varda were among 82 women to take part in a gender equality protest on the red-carpet in Cannes this evening.

The actors, directors, writers, producers, and distributors stood half way up the red carpet as a symbol of the challenges women face to climb the industry ladder. 82 represents the number of women directors who have had movies in Competition in Cannes during its 71 years. That compares to 1688 men.

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As we revealed would be the case last night, Competition Jury President Blanchett and iconic director Varda delivered speeches on the steps of the Palais, with Blanchett speaking in English and Varda in French. The event inevitably drew the largest crowd of onlookers and media for a red carpet so far at the festival.

Blanchett noted the “stark” facts of female under-representation at Cannes, before saying: “Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise. As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress.”

The happening was organized by French industry equality initiative 5050×2020 and came just before the premiere for Eva Husson’s Girls Of The Sun, a Kurdish female freedom fighter drama, which is one of only three films in competition directed by a woman.

On Monday, Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux will take part in a conference on gender inequality hosted by France’s culture minister Françoise Nyssen, and including France’s national film body CNC, Time’s Up US, and other pro-equality organizations from UK, Italy, and Spain, among other countries. According to a bulletin sent to us yesterday by the festival, the event will also include the “signing of concrete, strong commitments, with diversity and parity guidelines.”

Below, read Blanchett and Varda’s speech written for today’s event.

“On these steps today stand 82 women representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946. In the same period 1688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs. In the 71 years of this world-renowned festival there have been 12 female heads of its juries. The prestigious Palme d’Or has been bestowed upon 71 male directors – too numerous to mention by name – but only two women – Jane Campion, who is with us in spirit, and Agnès Varda, who stands with us today.

These facts are stark and undeniable.

Women are NOT a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise. As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress. We are writers, producers, directors, actresses, cinematographers, talent agents, editors, distributors, sales agents and all involved in the cinematic arts.

We stand in solidarity with women of all industries.

WE CHALLENGE our institutions to actively provide parity and transparency in their executive bodies and safe environments in which to work.

WE CHALLENGE our governments to make sure that the laws of equal pay for equal work are upheld.

WE CHALLENGE ourselves to continue to insist that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so that they can best reflect the world in which we actually live. A world that allows all of us behind and in front of the camera to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues.

WE ACKNOWLEDGE all of the women AND men who are standing for change.

The stairs of our industry MUST be accessible to all. Let’s climb.”