Cate Blanchett, the two-time Academy Award winner and Australian queen of our hearts, will be the president of this year’s Cannes Film Festival jury. In a statement, the actress said she was “humbled by the privilege and responsibility” of presiding over the festival.
“I have been to Cannes in many guises over the years; as an actress, producer, in the marketplace, the Gala-sphere, and in competition,” she continued, “but never solely for the sheer pleasure of watching the cornucopia of films this great festival harbors.”
She’ll be the 12th woman to serve as president of the jury. And as her poetic statement indicates, she’s also no stranger to the festival, most recently walking the famous carpet for the Todd Haynes drama Carol in 2015.
Pierre Lescure, the festival’s president, and Thierry Frémaux, general delegate, said they 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.”
Blanchett will serve as president at a heady time, thanks to the ongoing dialogue about sexual harassment in the film industry and the rise of the #MeToo movement. At last year’s festival, presided over by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar,Jessica Chastain made impassioned remarks about the “disturbing” ways female characters were represented in the films in competition that year, long before the movement took hold. She then urged power players to support women filmmakers.
“When we include more female storytellers, we will have more of the women I recognize in my day-to-day life—ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them,” she said. “They have their own point of view.” Her remarks were echoed by fellow jury members like Agnes Jaoui,Maren Ade, and Fan Bingbing.
Chastain’s critique notwithstanding, last year’s festival did make a bit of film history, however. Sofia Coppola picked up the best-director prize for The Beguiled, becoming only the second woman in the festival’s seven-decade run ever to win that honor. It was both a watershed moment and a clear example of Chastain being proven right.
This year, Blanchett faces an even bigger challenge, considering the industry’s newly heightened sensitivity and the festival’s dwindling dalliance with relevance. Splashy events like Cannes will be a perfect platform for bold statements in support of the #MeToo movement, and any high-profile ceremony that fails to acknowledge it will likely face heavy criticism.
Awards ceremonies like the Golden Globes are also navigating that tricky space right now. It is reported that actresses will wear black on the red carpet in protest of the industry’s rampant sexual harassment. In addition, host Seth Meyers will likely have to address the issue head-on in his opening monologue, as will several stars who are currently drafting acceptance speeches.
Cannes, one of the most esteemed festivals in the world, is in a category all its own at the moment, especially because of its international stature. While festivalgoers will have to thumb the global mood, they shouldn’t be surprised if we get one or two Chastain moments from Cate Blanchett, a woman who has frequently taken the film industry to task for its sexist practices.
Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:See Emily Blunt’s Vanity Fair Cover ShootYohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.