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Cannes "82 Women" protest on behalf of female filmmakers

by Nathaniel R

82 women walked the red carpet today at Cannes protesting the lack of female filmmakers represented at the festival over the years. The number 82 is the number of films directed by women that have been in the main competition lineup since Cannes began 71 years ago (3 of which are this year). All the famous talented women from this year's jury led by Cate Blanchett were there along with the Godmother of the French New Wave,  recent Honorary Oscar recipient AND nominee Agnes Varda. Blanchett and Varda gave the speech in English and French which went like so:

Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of the industry states otherwise. As women we face our own unique challenges, yet we stand together on these steps today as a symbol of determination and a commitment to progress, we are writers, producers, actors, cinematographers, talent agents, distributors, and sales agents. All of us are involved in the cinematic arts. We stand today in solidarity with women of all industries.

We expect our organizations to actively provide parity and transparency and a safe environment in which to work. We expect our governments to make sure that the laws of equal pay for equal work are upheld. We demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable, so they can best reflect the work in which we actually live, a world that allows all of us to in front and behind the camera, to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues. And we acknowledge all of the women and men around the world who are standing for change.

The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb!”

How they decided which women would be included in this 82 we do not know but other famous faces  represented were actresses  Jane Fonda, Salma Hayek, Marion Cotillard, Sofia Boutella, Claudai Cardinale and directors Alice Rohrwacher and Patty Jenkins. You can see the full list at Vanity Fair.

Only one female director has won the festival's top prize the Palme d'O: Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993. Sofia Coppola took Director last year for The Beguiled (2017) so it'll be interesting to see if any of the three films directed by women in the official lineup this year manages any prize at festival's end. Those three films are:

Capernaum by Nadine Labaki (Lebanon)
Girls of the Sun by Eva Husson (France)
Lazarro Felice by Alice Rohrwacher (Italy) 

We won't know until the day of the awards because the awards ceremony nearly always holds surprises. You don't even need good reviews to be in the running since juries often have contrarian streaks or, at the very least, don't always line up with the reviews being fired off all week by journalists.

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Reader Comments (21)

Is Jane at the back with shades on,i spotted Marion also 2nd row far right.

May 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I really hate it when people say 'only one woman won' as if more women should win just for being women. It should be about good work and good opportunities for all, regardless of gender.

May 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNnnnvg

Nnnnvg: It should indeed. But with male winners outnumbering female winners so unignorably, I suspect that some of the male winners won not because their work was better than women's but because, well, they were men.

May 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I just saw the speech that Cate Blanchett and Agnes Varda gave as it is a really powerful moment and certainly historical for what is happening at Cannes. Especially given the fact that 50 years ago, filmmakers shut the festival down in protest over what was happening in the country. This is a key moment as I'm someone that love women filmmakers as 2 of my top 5 favorite films are directed by women.

May 12, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Here's the complete list:

May 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue


May 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTheBoyFromBrazil

Until now I though Lindsay Anderson was a woman and If... was the first movie directed by a woman that won the Palm d'Or.

May 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJorge

I think this is just silly. Now if the jury awards a female filmmaker, the choice will appear suspect.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHuh

For those wringing their hands over positive discrimination, whilst I agree that bestowing honours on the basis of gender rather than merit undermines the point of awards (as well as being patronising), I think the wider point being made is that until there as many women as men making films then the statistical odds of a women winning the Palme D’Or (or any other award) are incredibly low. As Varda so eloquently states, this is not just about Cannes, but about the whole industry making the changes needed to promote inclusivity, ensuring equal access to opportunity, resources and support. It’s time to kill any residual notion that men succeed in winning awards because they are innately more talented than women.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSally W

Huh: I can see what you mean. But given MeToo/Time's Up, an award to a female filmmaker would probably look suspect without this protest too. But no more suspect than the male domination of the prizes up to this point.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

People should only win awards on the merit of the quality of their works, not because of their genders.
Men should never win one because they are men and the same applies to women.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

The award for Sophia Coppola was political the same way the awards for Fahrenheit 9/11 or Tom Hanks in Philadelphia were political and I'm absolutely fine with that.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

So now we know that if woman wins it will be only due to political reasons.

And nothing surprising here: Labaki and Rohrwacher are good directors but not better than Pawlikowski, Jia, Ceylan, Panahi or Godard. And Husson is... well - mediocre.

I hope that they will choose the best movie not the best movie directed by woman.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

Ugh there is no such thing as best movie as all of that depends on opinion.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Awards are SUBJECTIVE. "Merit" is something we tell ourselves is the deciding factor, but if Donald Trump had lost the election and then went on to direct/produce "The Shape of Water", no one would be giving him an award for it for obvious reasons. The whole enterprise is political and the only reason folks are mad about it now is because awards bodies are becoming more transparent about it.

What's "great" or a "classic" or "best" i's wholly subjective.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKBJr.

Plenty of Cannes prizes have been suspect for apparently no reason at all. I'm not a huge fan of American Honey but I can't rationalize why it didn't win the Palme over I, Daniel Blake or It's Only the End of the World (blergh) in 2016.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Suzanne: I Daniel Blake was THE WORST! The most embarrassing choice as long as I've been following Cannes.
Andrea Arnold will get her Palme one day, but it should have been that day.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Not only is merit less than "objective," our very views of what is artistically meritorious are deeply gendered in a way we're not fully conscious of because we're spent our entire lives watching and revering films mostly written and directed by men. We're hard-wired to believe certain subjects and even styles that are traditionally masculine are more likely to be "great" and "significant." Which is not to say there's such a thing as a standard "feminine" or "female" aesthetic - just that I'm pretty sure the landscape of movie "classics" over the last 50 years would look different if women had had equal opportunities and exposure.

I do agree that the focus should be on giving women (and people of color) more opportunities to *make* films that will *actually be seen*, rather than awarding films directed by women.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

Just make make good films that we want to see- gender should not be an issue

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

About the issue mentioned - "Awards should give based on merit". Right, in theory that would be the best approach. Unfortunally we don't live in the fantastic world with everything is fair and equal. And this isn't not just for "the awards", this is endemic.

Take for example the critics, almost everytime there's a film with a female lead driven story is dismissed as "acting play" or ridiculed as Lifetime while the male ones have better consideration. This is clear in 2014 when both "Still Alice" and "Wild" had the same critical level and references comparing "The Theory of Everything" or "The Imitation Game". Guess which films were nominated for BP? Now we have the list of films made by studios - Universal, Warner Bros. and Fox don't have films directed by women, but they hire white male directors with close of zero experience (Like happened in recent years) directing tentpoles.

Now, Rohrwacher has gained raves and her film is getting a better approach by many of the critics groups (Apichtapoll, German critics, Russian critics) but right now someone has dismissed her because she didn't made a "better film" before. The point of this march is about equal opportunity and vissibility. It's just unfair women and POC need to proof twice or three times for this white male privilege they are talented.

May 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLeon

Yep, as others have said, it's not about rewarding women just because they're women and it's not even about enabling women to direct more often.

It's about...who do we give respect to? Who do we automatically give authority to? Whose stories do we value? It's not a coincidence that the only woman to win Best Director at the Oscars won for a very male (both in actual cast and in content/aesthetic) movie.

May 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

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