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Guillermo del Toro passionately pushes for gender equality

Jury President Guillermo del Toro poses for photographers at the photo call for the Jury at the 75th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, on Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

VENICE, Italy (AP) -- Guillermo del Toro says a push for gender equality in Hollywood "is beyond a gesture, it's a need."

    The Mexican director behind the Oscar-winning "The Shape of Water" was speaking Wednesday at the Venice International Film Festival, where he is head of this year's jury. In a passionate speech during the jury press conference, de Toro said: "The goal has to be clear and has to remain to be 50/50 by 2020."

    "It's a real problem we have in the culture in general. Many of the voices that should be heard, need to be heard," he said. "It needs to be solved in every one of our pertinent departments with strength and resolve."

    This year's jury consists of five women and four men in an effort to readdress the imbalance that has occurred in previous years.

    Australian actress Naomi Watts is on the panel -- an experience she hopes will be "life altering."

    "To sit in a disciplined way and spend the next 10 days watching two to three films a day is extraordinary and I have just never had that opportunity. And to be amongst this group of people on this panel and with Guillermo leading it, I think it's going to be a really unique and really new experience."

    Fellow jury member, New Zealand comedy director Taika Waititi, joked that while comedy was his field of expertise, he was the right man for the job. "I have a very sensitive meter for tragedy and I like to think of myself sort of like the Tchaikovsky of comedy," he said.

    Also on this jury is Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang, Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Szumowska, French actress Nicole Garcia, Italian filmmaker Paolo Genovese and Austrian actor Christoph Waltz.

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