Cannes-2018: Penelope Cruz has replaced two mini for the evening

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ScreenDaily estimates that in the 71 years of the Cannes Film Festival, only 82 films have been directed by women.

The group supposedly includes a swath of female heavyweights in Hollywood from actresses like Salma Hayek to directors like Wonder Woman's Patty Jenkins and activist-journalists like Melissa Silverstein.

At the first Cannes festival since the sexual abuse scandals that broke in Hollywood past year, Cate Blanchett, the head of the jury that will award the Palme d'Or, and veteran French director Agnes Varda read out a statement.

Kristen Stewart and Ava DuVernay are set to lead a major protest on the Cannes red carpet to spotlight the festival's lack of female directors throughout its 71-year history.

The protest will be held ahead of the gala premiere of the only French woman director with a film in competition, Eva Husson, whose movie, Girls of the Sun, is about a Kurdish female battalion.

The protest is being organized by 5050×2020, a French cinema gender equality movement. Blanchett read a statement atop the Palais steps in English; Varda read it in French.

"Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise", the statement said. Only one female director, Jane Campion in 1993, has received the Palme d'Or, though Varda won an honorary Palme d'Or in 2015.

"As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress", read part of the statement.

The festival supported Saturday's protest.

Festival director Thierry Fremaux said the event is for women "to affirm their presence".

After missing last year's Cannes Film Festival, Cheryl put her best foot forward on Friday (11 May) night, hitting the red carpet just hours after arriving in the town. But he's also signaled that the festival is reanalyzing its procedures and making its selection committees gender-balanced.