THE leaders of the Cannes Film Festival have signed a gender equality pledge promising to make their selection process more transparent and to push their executive boards towards gender parity.

Cannes director Thierry Fremaux signed the pledge in a packed tent on the Cannes beach, along with Edouard Waintrop, artistic director of Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight section and Charles Tesson, artistic director of Critics’ Week.

Watching from the front row was this year’s nine-member jury, including president Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart, Ava DuVernay and Lea Seydoux.

Fremaux said: “We hope that Cannes will welcome these new initiatives. We hope that it will reinforce the realisation that the world is not the same anymore. The world has changed.

“We must question our history and our habits.”

The pledge was drawn up by the French gender-parity group 50/50 by 2020, which brought in other groups including Time’s Up.

The same international coalition was behind Saturday’s rally on the red carpet steps of Cannes’ Palais des Festivales, where 82 women protested against gender inequality in the film industry.

Blanchett said from the top of the Palais steps, alongside French filmmaker Agnes Varda: “Women are not a minority in the world, and yet our industry says the opposite.”