As it's first festival since revelations about Harvey Weinstein came to light last year and propelled the #MeToo movement into a new sphere of society shaking recognition, there was a different type of anticipation around Cannes Film Festival this year.
Many expected #MeToo, #TimesUp and wider conversations around sexual harassment and gender equality in Hollywood to feature heavily. We had moments of important recognition - from Kristen Stewarts protest of the festivals heels-only rule and Thandie Newton's subtle sartorial nod to the (few) black characters in the Star Wars franchise to the protest lead by Cate Blanchett and French director Agnes Varda in which 82 women (to represent the 82 female directors whose films have been selected to feature in official competition at the festival in over seven decades) stood on the red-carpeted steps of the Grand Theatre Lumiere.
The biggest mark of this kind to be made at Cannes, however, came on the closing night of the festival when actress Asia Argento, one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault last year, gave a brave and powerful speech about an encounter with Weinstein at Cannes 21 years ago, an environment which she described as his 'hunting ground'.
'In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground', Argento told the crowd on Saturday night. At the time, she had been at Cannes to promote B.Monkey , a film she starred in and was distributed by the company Weinstein co-founded with his brother. She told the New Yorker that she had been invited to a party by one of Weinstein's producers however when she arrived at the hotel there was no party but rather Weinstein waiting for her in a hotel room alone.
Speaking at Cannes she added: 'I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again. He will live in disgrace, shunned by a film community that once embraced him and covered up for his crimes. And even tonight, sitting among you, there are those that need to be held accountable for their conduct against women. For behavior that does not belong in this industry, does not belong in any industry or workplace. You know who you are. But most importantly, we know who you are, and we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.'
Argento's speech was met with fervent applause and an outpouring of support on social media for what she has done for the #MeToo movement and the women who continue to struggle with the realities of sexual assault.
Sharing a screenshot of her speech in her phone's notes and a picture of herself at Cannes stood next too director Ava DuVernay, Argento also tweeted: 'For all the brave women who came forward denouncing their predators, and for all the brave women who will come forward in the future. We got the power #metoo'.
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