May 7, 2018 / 12:30 AM / 17 days ago

Use Cannes festival to 'liberate women's voices' - French minister

LONDON, May 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - 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, 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”, Schiappa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email ahead of this year’s festival, which she said should be the “basis for liberating and listening to women’s voices”.

“The fact that the festival’s presidents decided to fight with us against sexual harassment for not just actresses but also workers and spectators at the festival ... is unprecedented and a great step forward,” Schiappa said.

The 71st Cannes Film Festival will run from May 8-19 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.

Once one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures, Weinstein has been accused by more than 70 women of sexual misconduct, including rape.

He has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

In April, 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!” with the hashtag #nerienlaisserpasser (“don’t let anything pass”).

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 and badges name-checking the “Time’s Up” campaign against sexual harassment.

Australian movie star Cate Blanchett, who also took part in Time’s Up, will chair this year’s event, becoming the 11th woman to do so in the Cannes festival’s history.

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

But she said that “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 said by email.

Reporting by Zoe Tabary @zoetabary, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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