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Aishwarya Rai participates in talk on gender inequality at Cannes

  • IWB Post
  •  May 18, 2015


Salma Hayek, Parker Posey and Aishwarya Rai were among those leading a call for greater gender equality in film at Cannes on Saturday.

Christine Vachon and Aishwarya Rai at the summit.

Christine Vachon and Aishwarya Rai at the summit.

Speaking at the forum organised by trade magazine Variety and UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, the actors spoke of their own experiences of institutional sexism and called on studios, audiences and journalists to alter the discourse.

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek


Hayek said her experiences battling prejudice against Hispanic people had taught her “the one colour Hollywood doesn’t ignore is green. We have the power to save their film industry that is collapsing. We cannot stand as victims – [they] don’t care. There’s only one thing people in power care about: money. And we deserve entertainment for us, not our children or husbands.”

UN Women Senior Advisor Elizabeth Nyamayaro cited findings by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media that only 12% of the protagonists of top-grossing films over the last decade were women, and only seven percent of the top 250 movies in the past decade were directed by women.

Christine Vachon, the veteran producer whose latest movie, lesbian romance Carol, has premiered to rave reviews, said that funding for projects was still based on “ridiculous systems” determined by the apparent value of the male stars. Hayek added that the casting process was “very sexist”. She recalled one role for which she was sought by a director, who put her forward for consideration by the male lead. “They get approval of leading ladies. The dude didn’t approve me and I got kicked out.”

Are you questioning when Aishwariya’s quote will make its way. We feel quite disturbed not hear her voice. One wonders about how much time was slotted for Aishwarya Rai to speak at the session. Considering that issue of sexism is so predominant in Indian film industry. Actresses reduced as mere prop star besides the hero and given less remuneration than the male actor are just few ailments, to begin with.

Yet for all the rallying cries, the conclusion seemed to be that the film industry had a long way to go before gender equality was in sight.

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