Cannes Film Festival Is Totally Not Sexist, Says Cannes Film FestivalS

After more than a thousand female filmmakers signed a U.S. petition in support of French feminists who claim that this year's Cannes Film Festival is just a big circle jerk, the Cannes board denied charges of sexism, saying that it completely endorses General Delegate Thierry Fremaux's decision not include a single film directed by a woman among the 22 competing for the coveted Palm d'Or. Besides, women have too been included in the award set! Two of the 17 filmmakers up for an award in the new talent section are women — France's own Catherine Corsini and Sylvie Verheyde.

Hopes that last year's festival (which featured four lady directors in the running for the golden palm frond) would pave the way for even greater gender equality proved a little too fanciful. According to France's AFP, 1,050 women from places diverse as Australia, India, and Brazil have signed a petition titled "Where Are the Woman Directors?" in response to the male dominated film lineup. They have urged Cannes jurors "to commit to transparency and equality in the selection process of these films." French feminist group Le Barbe (which means "the beard" in our far-less sonorous language) voiced the frustrations of filmmaking women with a critical op-ed in last weekend's Le Monde, which pointed out the dearth of female directorial talent in the Cannes selections and observed with faultless French sarcasm that "all 22 films in the official selection were written, what a happy coincidence, by 22 men."

Quoting the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Cannes board said that it "will continue to programme the best films from around the world 'without distinction as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status'," so there. Anybody who wants to see female directors gain some level of parity should go to Sundance, which is at least making an effort to get more lady-helmed movies playing for its audiences.

Cannes board brushes off sexism row [AFP, via Yahoo]