In 65 Years of the Cannes Film Festival, Only One Woman Has Been Awarded the Palme D'Or

Illustration for article titled In 65 Years of the Cannes Film Festival, Only One Woman Has Been Awarded the Palme D'Or

The 65th Cannes Film Festival is kicking off as we speak, and some 30,000 people gather in the sunny South of France — directors, producers, glamourous stars — in the name of cinema. Films from all over the world are screened. Often, good buzz at Cannes can launch a small film into a global sensation (last year's The Artist, for instance).

Advertisement

But as Melissa Silverstein of Women And Hollywood writes in a petition regarding the Festival De Cannes:

For the 2012 edition, as with the 2010 edition, there are NO FEMALE DIRECTED FILMS in competition, and in the 64 years of the Festival only one woman — Jane Campion — has been awarded the Palme D'Or.

It cannot be said that there are no women making films. There are. They're just not up for competition, it seems. But non-competitive selections do not garner as much attention as those vying for a prize. (One of the films directed by women being screened is Wadjda, the first-ever film shot in Saudi Arabia.)

And, of course, there are plenty of women at the film festival. Ladies get all dressed up to have their photographs taken on the famous red stairs. Cannes loves a woman who will simply pose and be stunning. That's how it's been for years.

French feminist action group La Barbe spoke out about the lack of women at Cannes; Festival director Thierry Fremaux responded thusly:

"I select work on the basis of it actual qualities. We would never agree to select a film that doesn't deserve it on the basis it was made by a woman…There is no doubt that greater space needs to be given to women within cinema. But it's not at Cannes and in the month of May that this question needs to be raised, but rather all year and everywhere."

Advertisement

Silverstein's petition calls for Cannes, and other film festivals worldwide "to commit to transparency and equality in the selection process of these films," and states:

We judge films as human beings, shaped by our own perspectives and experiences. It is vital, therefore, that there be equality and diversity at the point of selection.

Advertisement

Though there are no female-directed films in competition at Cannes,
The first signature on the petition is Silverstein's; the second is Gloria Steinem's. Will we be having the same conversation next year?

Cannes Film Festival: Where Are The Women Directors? [Official Petition]

DISCUSSION

I kind of hate this false equivalency because it's what a lot of people use instead of dealing with the real problem, which is that female directors cannot win. Either they go Hollywood and get stuck making romantic comedies, or they go indie, and are expected to make "serious dramas" about upper middle class white women because they have a vagina.

Try to step outside this range, and you will be abandoned. It's how Campion got screwed, it's part of the reason Lynne Ramsay can't get any traction outside of film nerds, and it's why Bigelow ultimately ditched the whole rotten system, made the movies she actually wanted to make, and won the Oscar.