Posts Tagged ‘La Barbe’

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’


La Barbe Celebrates 100th Protest Action

In Movements on December 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

"Des Barbues à Paris" - Image from La Barbe.

It was reported by egalite-infos.fr yesterday that La Barbe was to celebrate its 100th protest action by co-ordinating six protests in France and a further three in Denmark, Haiti and Mexico. So, what is La Barbe and does it have any potential to move to the UK?

La Barbe (translates as “The Beard” in English) is a French feminist protest movement which aims to highlight the absence of women in high profile political and business positions. The main tool used to gain column inches in the French press is the wearing by protesters of a (rather comedy) beard. La Barbe supporters, wearing their beards, turn up to protest against the disproportionate numbers of men in certain domains such as business, sport, arts and media.

Their manifesto states: “Pour toutes les femmes effarées par la montée du sexisme dans les médias, pour les femmes excédées par la domination masculine dans la société française, pour celles effraient de voir augmenter encore les inégalités entre hommes et femmes dans tous les secteurs d’activité.”

Translation: “For all the women startled by the rise in sexism in the media, for all the women fed up with male domination of French society, for those shocked to still see the inequality of men and women in all sectors.”

According to their statistics it seems La Barbe have every reason to be effarées. They estimate that in the French media 85% of television executives are men and 85% of experts who appear on French radio discussions are male. There are similarly shocking statistics presented for the domination of men in the arts, sports and business.

It seems the movement is spreading, too. Danish feminists, under the name Nordic La Barbe, have also embraced the beard, taking part in the 100th protest celebrations in Copenhagen. They also stand alongside their counterparts in Mexico known as Las Bigotonas (The Mustaches). So could this hirsute form of feminist protest spread to the UK?

Sadly, La Barbe has gone relatively unnoticed by the British media. Aside from a fairly comprehensive overview by the Guardian, and a couple more specific articles in the Independent and Guardian covering the protests following the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, there has been relatively little said about La Barbe in the UK.

Furthermore, English language feminism organizations such as The F Word and Feministing have produced very little on La Barbe. The only mention of it I could find was a very brief article explaining the movement on Feministing dating back to September 2010. It’s a shame because La Barbe has been a effective and visual way to highlight the issues of sexism in France. It has also somewhat rejuvenated the feminist movement in France, so perhaps we have something to learn from our bearded French sisters?

For more information on La Barbe visit their web page: www.labarbelabarbe.org or their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Barbe-groupe-daction-f%C3%A9ministe/149218445123550 (Unfortunately only available in French).