Cannes Film Festival opened this week with the usual glitz and glamour one would expect from an internationally respected film festival. French feminist group La Barbe, however, were less than impressed with the ratio of male to female directors nominated for the official selection. Twenty two out of twenty two films were directed by men, meaning none of the films nominated for the official selection had female directors.
Why make such a fuss? La Barbe believes, as would most feminists, that the under-representation of female directors at one of the world’s most prestigious and well known festivals shows a lack of respect women in the film industry. In their statement, La Barbe muses over what the festival must think of women, “Above all, never let the girls think they can one day have the presumptuousness to make movies or to climb those famous Festival Palace steps, except when attached to the arm of a prince charming.” [Guardian Translation]. The actions of the Cannes Film Festival presents the message that only male directors can be the best film-makers, even if that’s not what the official statements say.
In an interview with RTL Radio the activist Rokhaya Diallo (not directly associated with La Barbe, although she clearly agrees with them on this issue) when posed with the statement that there are plenty of female actresses at Cannes, comments, “[the women at Cannes] are happy to smile, to pose and above all to promote the brands who sponsor them.” ([les femmes] qui sont contentes de sourire, de poser et surtout de bien mettre en evidence les marques que les sponsorisent). Diallo is then posed with the fact that the Master of Ceremonies is a woman this year; Bérénice Bejo. She points out that the role is very small and one in which Bejo must be well-presented and with the right etiquette, much like a housewife. She then says, “At Cannes the roles are clearly defined, the men are the creators and the women are their creatures” (à Cannes les roles sont clairement defini, les hommes sont les createurs et les femmes leurs creatures).
The Festival has released a statement stating that the nominations were made without concious reference to gender, race, nationality etc. and the fact that all their nominees happened to be male was a complete coincidence.
For more information read the Guardian translated La Barbe’s open letter to the Cannes Film Festival here, the official Cannes Film Festival Website here, and RTL’s interview with Rokhaya Diallo here.
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