Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Sexism Scandal at Cannes Film Festival

In Culture, Film on May 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm

The official poster for Cannes Film Festival 2012. Image from francesoir.fr

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 BejoShe 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.


Recommended Reads: 

15/12/2011: La Barbe Celebrates 100th Protest Action

29/03/2012: L’Acadamie Française Accepts the Seventh ‘Imortelle’


L’Acadamie Française Accepts the Seventh ‘Imortelle’

In Biography, Culture on March 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Today (29th March) the Acadamie Française welcomed it’s newest member into their secretive and prestigious ranks. Founded in 1635 by the Cardinal of Richlieu, L’Acadamie Française is one of France’s long-standing cultural institutions. It’s role is to regulate the French language and ensure that it remains unchanged and therefore untarnished.

The most unusual thing about this newest member is her gender. Danièle Sallenave is only the seventh woman, in the academy’s entire 377 year history, to be accepted as an ‘imortelle’ (an immortal [feminine] – the name for members of the academy). Currently the Academy has 36 members filling a total of 40 seats. All immortals hold their seats for life, unless the holder resigns. New members are elected in the event of a death, which explains why the Academy is presently 4 immortals short as the election process takes a long time to complete.

The first woman to be accepted into the academy was Marguerite Yourcenar in 1980. Yourcenar is best known for winning the Prix Femina in 1968 for her work L’Oeuvre au noir (The Abyss). Of the eight women ever elected to the post of ‘imortelle’, six are alive today.

Sallenave earnt her honour through the publication of over thirty works and for her achievements as a journalist. She won the Prix Renaudot in 1980 for her novel Les portes de Rubbio and now sits on the judging panel for the Prix Femina. Sallnave was already known and respected by the academy, as she won the Academy’s prestigious prize for literature in 2005 in recognition of her entire body of work.

For more information read about L’Academie Française here and the Le Monde article here