WOMAN’S HOUR: Call it the Harvey Weinstein effect. Two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett is to be president of the jury at the 71st edition of the Cannes International Film Festival, making her the 12th woman to fill the role in the festival’s history. Spanish director Pedro Almodovar occupied the seat last year.
The festival will be held from May 8 to May 19 – the day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding – and this year will open on a Tuesday and end on a Saturday.
The 48-year-old Australian actress, who has been vocal in her support of the women who have come forward in the Weinstein affair after a series of sexual assault statements were made against the producer, is also one of 300 female Hollywood actors, directors, producers, agents, writers and executives backing the recently launched Time’s Up initiative to help fight sexual harassment in the workplace.
Declaring she was “humbled by the privilege and responsibility” of the role, Blanchett in a statement on Thursday shared some of her own achievements as a festival regular. Most recently, in 2015, she attended the event for “Carol” by Todd Haynes, a film that she co-produced with the Weinstein Co. and which was presented in competition.
“I have been to Cannes in many guises over the years; as an actress, producer, in the marketplace, the Gala-sphere and in competition, but never solely for the sheer pleasure of watching the cornucopia of films this great festival harbors,” said Blanchett.
“This festival plays a pivotal role in bringing the world together to celebrate story; that strange and vital endeavor that all peoples share, understand and crave,” she added.
Pierre Lescure, the festival’s president, and Thierry Frémaux, its general delegate, said in a joint statement: “We are delighted to welcome such a rare and unique artist whose talent and convictions enrich both screen and stage. Our conversations from this autumn tell us she will be a committed president, a passionate woman and a big-hearted spectator.”
Already the festival last year was credited with being a much more woman-friendly affair in terms of its selection of films. Sofia Coppola, for her film “The Beguiled,” became the second woman ever to win the event’s Best Director prize, the first being Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva in 1961 for “The Chronicle of Flaming Years.”
Meanwhile, Blanchett’s appointment is bound to give some golden red carpet time to the Giorgio Armani brand, for whom she is an ambassador. Kering and Chopard are key sponsors of the event.
In terms of upcoming film roles, Blanchett will star in “Ocean’s 8,” with an all-female cast, due to be released after Cannes. She plays a lead role in the film adaptation of Maria Semple’s “Where’d You Go Bernadette,” directed by Richard Linklater, as well as “The House with a Clock in its Walls,” helmed by Eli Roth, also due out this year.