Cate Blanchett at The Apprentice Premiere, UNHCR Cannes PressCon & Women In Motion Talk

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett attended a discussion and a press conference in support of UNHCR on Day 7 of Cannes Film Festival.

She also participated at this year’s Kering: Women in Motion Conversation with Coco Francini and Dr. Stacy Smith to talk about the Proof of Accelerator program. The finalist for the first year of the program will be unveiled today.

“Displacement: Cinematic Perspectives”

“Displacement: Cinematic Perspectives” discussion is moderated by Journalist Hadley Gamble. The discussion highlights the newly funded program which focuses on displaced filmmakers and their stories, how the film community can work together to identify these stories and how these stories can enter the main market.

“UNHCR: Displaced Stories” Press Conference

Australian actor Cate Blanchett, goodwill ambassador for the UN Agency for Refugees, on Monday urged the film industry to take a leap and include their “incredible” stories.

“People who are displaced have a voice, they have a story,” said the Oscar-winning actor at a talk at the Cannes Film Festival.

“Their stories are so incredible and inspiring.”

Blanchett, who has met refugees as a UNHCR envoy since 2016, said 114 million people had been displaced around the world by violence and war.

“I’m always bewildered as to why more films don’t speak directly or obliquely to this,” she said.

“The more we exclude these voices from our narratives, the more we’re othering them.”

“So I would love to say to people, when they are thinking about directors they might work with or stories that they might be interested in… just make a list of people who don’t look like you, who haven’t had experiences like you, and see what stories you might like to tell,” she said.

“I think what happened with the old studio system is they started to tell the same stories made by the same people, the same crews, and it died.”

Blanchett, who is also a producer, said there was still work ahead.

“You can see it in meetings with streamers when you go to pitch a story and they go ‘Oh we loved it, we connected, we were so moved, but it’s not part of our mandate,'” she said.

“And you go ‘Are you a dickhead? You’ve got no other story like this on your slate. Don’t you want a dynamic slate?'”

Blanchett is in Cannes for the premiere out of competition of “Rumours”, in which the seven leaders of the world’s wealthiest liberal democracies get lost in the woods trying to draft a statement.

Women in Motion

The Apprentice Premiere

The third time is a charm for the collaboration between Cate Blanchett and Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of watches and jewelry Francesca Amfitheatrof to create her latest Cannes Film Festival red carpet look.

“I’ve been working with Francesca on trying to find as many ways as possible to use the same jewelry,” she told WWD in a suite overlooking the Mediterranean just before she stepped onto the red carpet Monday night.

“I’ve worn so many of her pieces wherever she has worked over the years,” Blanchett said. The Oscar winner is such a fan she wrote the foreword to Amfitheatrof’s book “Fantastical Jewels” last year.

“Obviously, what she’s trying to do at Vuitton is really incredibly strong,” she said of what she called the “Amfitheatrof twist.”

“I’m such a huge admirer of her reference points. She’s got so many fantastic, interesting left-field references that she brings to bear. And the fact that she’s into reworking pieces, and going back into the archives, but also finding offcuts and previously used discarded jewels, just [demonstrates] that we don’t always have to use something new,” Blanchett said. “I’m so excited that she’s alive to the possibilities.”

This is the third time Blanchett has collaborated with Amfitheatrof on repurposing materials from past collections to create a new piece.

This time they took archive pearls and diamonds — 49 white Ayoka, 33 gray Tahitian and 633 diamonds, to be precise — and shaped them anew.

The creation drapes across the clavicle to create a shoulder-skimming piece that fits more like couture than an accessory, and paired it with a sculptural Haider Ackermann for Jean Paul Gaultier color-blocked gown.

And that couture approach was key: It was created in the jewelry atelier on Place Vendôme by the house’s artisans, who fit the piece to Blanchett’s precise measurements.

The diamonds and pearls for the Art Deco-inspired piece were sourced from three previous high jewelry collections.

“We aim to surprise and create conversations around creative imaginative ways to repurpose and reuse materials,” Amfitheatrof said. “We create because new ideas and designs can often appear from what we already have around us; it is all about how you look at the world.”

Blanchett has famously also repurposed dresses for the red carpet; her perspective on sustainability shapes her design philosophy.

“It’s just not sustainable to wear things once and then discard them, or to put one’s things in an ‘archive,’” she said, emphasizing the emotional connection she has to outfits.

“It’s also, these red carpet moments, for me, are a repository of really deep memories and of celebration and gathering together. So the idea that you could wear something again means that the piece accrues those memories,” she said. She has the last dress that Lee Alexander McQueen designed at home among special pieces and is “desperate” to find the right occasion.

Her passion for reworking both jewelry and fashion is visceral.

“I had this really profound moment where my grandmother lived with us, and she opened the box to her wedding dress, and I thought I would love to wear that at some point, not necessarily as a bride, but just to recall the history of that celebration and what happened at that big moment in her life,” she said. Clothes can connect you to history.

Blanchett also noted that she has worked with Louis Vuitton artistic director of women’s collections Nicolas Ghesquière on dresses that are made from repurposed fabrics. “Deadstock is a very uncool, unsexy term,” she joked, but the philosophy of reuse and reworking, or pulling vintage pieces from archives, goes beyond jewels.

“We have to bring that in creatively, to bring those moments into the present, but why don’t we bring the actual garments into the present? There’s ways of dyeing fabric and using sustainable fabrics,” she said. “I think creativity dies when you start thinking in short term, conventional ways. And I think by embracing sustainability and fashion it reinvigorates the collections.”

After walking the red carpet for her film “Rumors,” which screened out of competition Saturday, and “The Apprentice” premiere on Monday, Blanchett will unveil the winners of the first round of her inclusion initiative “Proof of Concept,” which will accelerate female filmmakers. Those eleven honorees will be revealed Tuesday.

Blanchett highlighted the movement to create new opportunities for women in the industry and create lasting, supportive structure. The initiative started just a year ago, sparked by a conversation here in Cannes and is now seeing its first results.

“It was amazing how quickly it all happened. I think there’s a real need there, and there’s a real desire for change,” she said.

In a touch of kismet, jurors Greta Gerwig and Lily Gladstone happen to be on the “Proof of Concept” selection committee as well, and they are able to reunite in Cannes.

Blanchett’s return to the film festival just a year after that kick-off conversation is also one of her many trips to Cannes. She noted that she’s been in every corner of the festival — from trying to sell a film in the marketplace all the way to being the president of the jury in 2018.

That year she led a group of 82 women on the red carpet to protest gender inequality. The number signified how many female directors had been in competition since the festival’s founding to 2018, in contrast to the 1,688 male directors at the time.

That year Cannes, along with Venice and other film festivals, signed a declaration to commit to bringing more female filmmakers into their ranks.

“In a way I have absolutely seen that happen in the festivals. I think the industry is lagging behind. And I think festivals are a far more elastic, inclusive space, that there’s much more work to do,” she said. “I still step on sets and I am one of three women, so it is time for change.”

What wouldn’t change is her dress for the evening. While Blanchett maintained perfect posture in prep for the big walk, once past the photographers she vowed to let loose.

“It’s just a red carpet thing. Once I’m in, it’s all over,” she joked.

Sources: IEFTA, France24, ABC Es, WWD