Silent protest over Cannes' record on 'female films'
Only 82 films directed by women have ever made festival's main slate, writes Jake Coyle
Eighty-two women yesterday walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival to highlight the limited number of female film-makers selected for the festival's competition line-up over its 71 years.
Among those who walked were Salma Hayek, Jane Fonda, Wonder Woman film-maker Patty Jenkins and the French director Agnes Varda, a recipient of an honorary Palme d'Or prize.
Joining them were the five female members of this year's Cannes jury, Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart, Ava DuVernay, Lea Seydoux and Burundian singer Khadja Nin.
The number 82 corresponds with the number of films directed by women which have ever played in the festival's prestigious Palme d'Or competition - in contrast to the 1,645 films directed by men.
The silent symbolic protest was held ahead of the premiere of French film-maker Eva Husson's Girls of the Sun, which is about a Kurdish battalion entirely composed of female soldiers.
Husson is one of three female film-makers out of the 21 movies in competition for the Palme d'Or this year. The other two - Nadine Labaki's Capernaum and Alice Rohrwacher's Happy as Lazzaro - are to premiere this week.
Cannes has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years over the number of female directors selected for its main slate, considered one of the biggest achievements in cinema. Jane Campion is the only female film-maker to ever win the Palme d'Or, for The Piano in 1993.
Festival director Thierry Fremaux hailed yesterday's event as a way for women "to affirm their presence."
Fremaux has repeatedly insisted that the festival chooses its films purely based on quality.
But he has also indicated that the festival is reanalysing its procedures and is making its selection committees gender balanced.
Jessica Chastain last year served as a jury member in Cannes and was critical of the female representation in the festival's main slate.