Gong Li

CANNES, France — Women’s voices united at the fifth presidency dinner of the Cannes Film Festival, dedicated to Kering’s Women in Motion awards ceremony.

Held on Sunday at the Musée de la Castre primitive art museum located at the top of Cannes’ historic district, the Suquet, with views overlooking the city’s port, the event drew personalities including Eva Longoria, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Anthony Vaccarello, Charlotte Tilbury, Gaspar Noé and jury head Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Not forgetting night owl Leonardo DiCaprio, who slipped into the event after midnight, staying low profile before the premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” on Tuesday.

Guest of honor Gong Li, the recipient of this year’s Women in Motion prize, was accompanied by her beau, electronic pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre.

Greeting guests by the cocktail bar, criss-crossing lines of yellow lightbulbs strung overhead, Marco Bizzarri, president and chief executive officer of Gucci, spoke about the important connection between fashion and the festival, adding that at Gucci, they like to keep things “organic” with regards to whom they dress. The towering executive was dressed in a floral jacket with the words “Gucci Loves Marco” embroidered in pearls at the back. When asked if he’d had a hand in the design, he replied, “I can’t sew a stitch, I’m a business guy.”

Addressing the audience, festival president Pierre Lescure said Kering, through “the focus, the talks, the debates engaged by Women in Motion,” has began to influence the statistics. He read out the following quote that the late Agnès Varda had made during one of the program’s first talks: “I encourage women to know that in every woman, in every man, in every child there is the possibility of creation. I encourage everyone to wake up.”

Kering ceo François-Henri Pinault in his opening speech also paid homage to Varda, who features on this year’s festival poster, describing her as a woman of commitment, a tireless feminist and a great artist. “She was the embodiment of our world,” he said.

Announcing the renewal of Kering’s partnership with the festival for another five years, Pinault touched on the difference the program has made in terms of opening up a dialogue around the under-representation of women in cinema.

“Five years is not enough to abolish decades of gender inequalities. And in society at large, women’s rights are still far from being a given. Look at the news from Alabama last Wednesday. We are far from saying ‘Mission Accomplished,’” he said.

The Women in Motion Young Talent Award, which supports emerging female directors with a 50,000-euro donation, went to German director Eva Trobisch, nominated by Carla Simón, who won the award last year.

Seated at the Saint Laurent table, Anja Rubik spoke of the importance of sisterhood and speaking out.

“I think it’s very scary that we’re moving backward,” she said on the subject of the pro-choice demonstration held on the red carpet the day prior by 60 women and activists before the premiere of Argentine director Juan Solanas’ abortion documentary “Let It Be Law (Que Sea Ley).”

“I also think that we have to use the fashion world as a platform to make change for both women and the environment,” continued Rubik whose own causes include promoting sex education in Poland, with 150,000 copies of her book, “#sexedpl,” sold so far, and sustainability, as a consultant for Parley for the Oceans.

“Fashion is the fastest-changing industry out there, and it sets trends faster than any other, so I think it’s very important that fashion is involved in different causes, it can have a very big impact,” she said, adding that she has been advising Kering on “ways to move forward.” “We’re here with Kering, which does a lot, they’re very motivated to make even more changes when it comes to their brands….I’m in contact with the president of Saint Laurent and Marie-Claire Daveu [Kering’s chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs],” she said.

Gainsbourg, who this summer will be touring festivals before starting work on a new album, said she was disappointed she couldn’t make the demonstration. “I wanted to go, but I couldn’t. It’s a time where we need to be active, so anything that gets the attention is good,” she said.

In the meantime, there was fun to be had. Following a dinner orchestrated by Hélène Darroze, Salma Hayek got the party going, leaping up to dance with Rossy de Palma as a troupe of Brazilian Batucada percussionists entered the room, peppered with carnival dancers in lavish feather headdresses. Actor Gad Elmaleh treated guests to a drumming session, as the festivities continued late into the night.

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