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Cannes Film Festival is making big feminist changes thanks to Jessica Chastain

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Susan Devaney
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Actress Jessica Chastain has been credited as the reason behind Cannes Film Festival’s move towards including more women in the annual event. 

Jessica Chastain has never been one to hold back when it comes to showcasing women. From actively fighting to close the gender pay gap to calling Time’s Up on sexual harassment in the film industry, Chastain uses her voice to encourage change.

And it seems to be paying off. After having served on the jury last year at the annual Cannes Film Festival, the actress – who’s starred in films such as Molly’s Game and The Help – has inspired the festival’s organisers to add more women to the line-up, in every way possible.

“We are equalising the proportion of women staffing the festival and within our selection committees, which is important: last year, Jessica Chastain, who was on the jury, made me understand the importance of the ‘female gaze’ during the selection process,” Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s director, tells Variety.

While serving on the festival’s jury in France in 2017, Chastain challenged the industry’s lack of female representation.

“I do hope that when we include more female storytellers we will have more of the kinds of women that I recognise in my day-to-day life,” Chastain said. “Ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them, they have their own point of view.”

And it’s proved to hit home for the highly publicised event.

“She [Chastain] was right. We are also adding our voices to the fight for equal pay. These topics abound. The world is not the same since the Weinstein case; it has woken up. And it’s fortunate,” Fremaux explains.

Chastain has since taken to Twitter to thank the festival for making such important changes. 

“Wow. Thierry Fremaux is an example on how to make a difference. Brilliant of him to include more women in the selection process. I love Cannes Festival so much. I was born as an actress here. This festival will always be my home,” wrote Chastain. 

Fremaux also added that The Piano (released in 1993) director Jane Campion “remains the only woman who won the Palme d’Or, I hope another woman director will succeed her.”

We hope so too.

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