At the 2018 Cannes Film Festival (which I attended for the first time under my own accreditation), of the over 4,000 accredited journalists there were only two black American film critics and/or journalists. TWO. Of 4,000. They were Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley and W magazine’s Miriam Bale. Coley detailed her experience, and difficulties, at landing a ticket to Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman for IndieWire while Bale was dismayed to find out just how limited their representation was.
I reached out through the normal channels a few weeks before the premiere. Focus Features and Monkeypaw Prods. were polite, but their tickets were exhausted. And unlike most festivals, at Cannes no one can buy a ticket: They are distributed solely on the basis of influence and access. (Just let that sink in for a minute.) This would take ingenuity.– Jacqueline Coley
Before the new Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, I wondered which black American film critics would be writing on it. The answer, it turns out, was just me (and one other woman, Jacqueline Coley, who wrote more about her experience getting a ticket to the premiere than on the film itself). I felt that pressure and resented it.– Miriam Bale
Representation of women, and especially women of color, in all forms and levels of media and entertainment – from who gets to make movies to who gets to write about them – is at the forefront of how information is disseminated. At Cannes 2018, a Women’s March took place organized by a French movement called 5050×2020, which called for 50/50 gender equality in the French film industry by the year 2020. Among the crowd were representatives from feminist and industry pro-equality movements; actresses; filmmakers like Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins; and last year’s female jury members Kristen Stewart, Marion Cotillard, Ava DuVernay, Léa Seydoux, and Khadja Nin with jury president Cate Blanchett.
This year, it is my great honor to be able to provide accreditation to writer Valerie Complex to attend her first Cannes Film Festival and to hopefully deliver more cracks to the very white ceiling of the world’s most prestigious cinema soirée. Valerie is a queer woman of color whose voice needs to be raised. She has written for The Playlist, Black Girl Nerds, Harper’s Bazaar and more and is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic.
But accreditation was only the first step. For many of those that freelance, getting to a festival across the ocean takes a village of support. Without a cushy outlet that provides those important and costly travel needs like airfare and lodging (if I could, I would fund her myself), Valerie will need assistance to attend. Her participation at this festival is crucial and just a small part of exposing the need for a much more diverse lineup of journalists that get to cover festivals like this.
Please consider helping me get Valerie to Cannes by donating to her GoFundMe page. Representation matters. Diverse voices matter. The festival is right around the corner, May 14 – 25, and any assistance would be enormously appreciated.
UPDATE: She reached her goal! In just 19 hours!! Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart and on Valerie’s behalf.