Cannes 2014 Lineup Revealed Only Two Women Directors in Main Competition
April 19, 2014
For whatever reason, the Cannes Film Festival -- perhaps because of its grandeur, glamorous red carpet, and press attention -- has become the crux around which global conversations about gender and women directors take place. I'm sure that if Cannes director Thierry Fremaux had his way (and he did for many, many years), no one would even comment on the lack of gender diversity at his festival. But the world has changed, and Mr. Fremaux has clearly heard the message -- in his own way -- as he dribbled out a bunch of announcements over the last month that he hoped would satisfy his critics on this issue. First Jane Campion was anointed the jury president, then Andrea Arnold will head the Critics Week jury, and lastly that Rebecca Zlotowski will lead two other juries during Critics Week.
Yet none of those announcements take away from the fact that the festival still has a problem with including women directors in the main competition. I refuse to accept the bullshit that women are not making "good enough" films. Because "good enough" is simply a shield and a code -- just another way to keep women out by pretending there is some objective standard for quality when all judgments are subjective and influenced by the viewer's own tastes, background, and biases. So where is Liv Ullmann's Miss Julie? Where is Susanne Bier's Serena? Where is Mia Hansen-Love's Eden? Sure, she's young, but Xavier Dolan is even younger and he's in again.
Mr. Fremaux did his best to appease the situation by mentioning that there will be 15 women directors this year at the Cannes Film Festival. But that figure is padded; five of those women are the directors of a compilation film called Bridges of Sarajevo that's playing at a special screening. As it stands there will be just two women -- Alice Rohrwacher with La Meraviglie and Naomi Kawase with Still the Water in the main competition. That's two women out of a total of 18 films. Last year was no better with, only one woman-directed film in competition out of 19.