On Thursday morning in Paris, Thierry Frémaux, the artistic director of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, remarked that the world “will never be the same again” after sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein boosted the #MeToo movement, IndieWire reported. He also addressed the lack of female filmmakers in the movie industry.
“There are not enough women directors,” Frémaux said, “but we don’t have to talk about that here.”
Frémaux was holding a news conference to announce the Cannes Film Festival lineup, which includes 18 films this year. Only three were directed by women. Those directors are Nadine Labaki, Alice Rohrwacher and Eva Husson.
“Our point of view is that the films are selected for their intrinsic qualities,” Frémaux said. “There will never be a selection with a positive discrimination for women.”
Frémaux noted that there are more women than men on the jury this year, which is headed by Cate Blanchett. Earlier this year, Blanchett helped launch the Time’s Up initiative to combat sexual misconduct. She will be the 12th woman to serve as its president.
But representation on the jury has never translated to representation among female directors competing at the festival, which has been around for 71 years.
Last year, Sofia Coppola became the second woman to win the Cannes best director prize for her film, “The Beguiled.” She was one of three female directors who competed.
The only woman who received the directing prize before Coppola was Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva, who won in 1961 for her depiction of Soviet resistance to the Nazi movement in “Chronicle of Flaming Years.” And in a pre-written speech, Coppola reportedly thanked Jane Campion, the only woman in Cannes history to win the Palme d’Or, the highest prize at Cannes. Campion won for “The Piano” in 1993.
This history has not gone unnoticed. French actress Isabelle Huppert, an Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner for “Elle,” received the Women in Motion Award last year. At the festival’s 70th anniversary celebration, she reportedly exclaimed, “70 years, 76 Palme d’Ors, but only one has gone to a woman — no comment.”
Huppert later told the BBC: “I think the message has been clearly heard. But on the other hand, you don’t want to bring women just to bring women. … A good film is a good film. But we have to create the best possible conditions so there are more female films.”
Nicole Kidman, who had four separate projects at Cannes last year, urged support for female directors.
“Only 4.2 percent of women directed the main motion pictures of 2016, that’s a statistic from the Women in Film group,” Kidman said, according to the Guardian. “There were 4,000 episodic television series last year and only 183 women directed them. … We as women have to support female directors. Hopefully it will change over time, but everybody keeps saying, ‘Oh it’s so different now, oh it’s so different now,’ and it isn’t.”
• Lebanese actress-turned-director Labaki will show “Capernaum,” which explores the lives of migrants in Beirut. A graduate of the festival’s Résidence program, Labaki served on the jury in 2015 and has screened two films before: “Caramel” in 2007 and “Where Do We Go Now?” in 2011.
• Italian writer-director Rohrwacher will return with the time-traveling drama “Happy, Lazzaro.” Rohrwacher’s coming-of-age debut “Corpo Celeste” premiered 2011, and rural drama “The Wonders” won the Grand Prix, an award second only to the Palmer d’Or, in 2014.