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Jury president Cate Blanchett appears on stage at the opening ceremony of the 71st international film festival, Cannes.

Photo: Vianney Le Caer/AP

Cannes

Cannes Film Festival showed a vivid montage of Cate Blanchetts career over more than 55 films as part of the opening ceremony on Tuesday night.

Blanchett, who is president of the festival competitions jury, linked arms with iconic director Martin Scorsese to declare the festival open.

Both she and her fellow jury member Kristen Stewart wore #TimesUp black to the opening gala, albeit black of a frothy, lacy and altogether magnificent kind.

In a press conference earlier in the day, she answered a question about the “old-fashioned view” of women on the red carpet by saying that the side of the festival that involves dressing up was “there to be enjoyed”.

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“Being attractive doesnt preclude being intelligent. I think this is by its very nature a glamorous, fantastic, spectacular festival, full of joie-de-vivre,” she said.

That said, her festival uniform apart from opening night has so far been a succession of chic but eminently practical trouser suits.

The great thing about this platform that is Cannes … is that every single film is worth seeing

Cate Blanchett

The W-word wasnt mentioned by anyone on the platform, but Harvey Weinsteins exploits hung like a cloud in the venue that was once his favoured stamping ground.

The festival has set up a helpline for women who experience harassment during the event and is supporting a series of seminars about womens representation in the film industry.

At the same time, the biggest bone of contention about the event is how few films by women have been chosen for the main competition: three in a field of 21.

A couple of years ago, Blanchett pointed out, there were only two. With more women now on the selection committees, she was confident change would come.

“But these things are not going to happen overnight," she said. "And it is very exposing, almost a gladiatorial sport coming to Cannes as a director and you want to know that the director is ready to have their work displayed.” As it was, the jury had to “deal with what we have in front of us”.

The two-time Oscar winner has appeared in seven films in Cannes and is a festival regular, but never has won an award there.

“As an artist myself, Im not that focused on awards. Im much more process-driven," she said. “You might ask why did I become president of the jury if Im not interested in awards?”

The drawcard for her, she said, was the dialogue she would have with other artists presenting films at Cannes and on the jury – which includes Blade Runner director Denis Villeneuve, Selma director Ava DuVernay and James Bond actress Lea Seydoux.

From left, jury members Khadja Nin, Lea Seydoux, Blanchett, Ava DuVernay and Kristen Stewart.

Photo: AP

Festival director Thierry Fremaux and his team choose the official programme from about 1600 films. Picking a winner was “an impossible task", said Blanchett, and no choice would please everyone.

“Without having had a single conversation about a film yet, (I know) we will disappoint and confound. But the great thing about this platform that is Cannes, this cultural international melting pot, is that every single film is worth seeing.”

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