A few good women: Female filmmakers at Cannes

By AFP   May 7, 2018 | 06:41 pm PT
A few good women: Female filmmakers at Cannes
(From L) Australian actress and President of the Jury Cate Blanchett, Burundian singer and member of the Feature Film Jury Khadja Nin, U.S. actress and member of the Feature Film Jury Kristen Stewart and Taiwanese actor and member of the Feature Film Jury Chang Chen on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival on May 7. Photo by AFP/Alberto Pizzoli
Women made up barely 3.5 percent of the best director and best screenplay winners over the past seven decades.

In a year dominated by the #MeToo movement, the Cannes film festival - which starts Tuesday - is feeling the heat to address glaring gender imbalances in the competition for its top prize, the Palme d'Or.

But the numbers show the festival still has some way to go in the battle of the sexes.

And the winner is...

Of the 268 filmmakers who have claimed one of Cannes' top three prizes, only 11 - or four percent - have been women, an analysis by AFP shows.

New Zealand's Jane Campion remains the only female director to have received the highest accolade, the Palme d'Or, awarded for her masterpiece "The Piano Lesson" in 1993.

Iranian prodigy Samira Makhmalbaf snagged the prestigious Jury Prize twice, first for her 2000 breakthrough feature "Blackboards" and again three years later for "At Five in the Afternoon."

The last major prize winner was Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, who took home the Grand Prix for "The Wonders" in 2014. She's back in the running this year with "Happy as Lazzaro."

Director's cut, or not

Women have made up barely 3.5 percent of the best director and best screenplay winners over the past seven decades.

Only four of the 111 winners have been female - and two of them were last year when Sofia Coppola became only the second woman to secure the best director trophy with her American Civil War drama "The Beguiled".

Meanwhile, Briton Lynne Ramsay's "A Beautiful Day" scored best screenplay.

Struggle to get in

If only one woman has won the Palme d'Or it is also because very few of them ever get nominated.

Since 1946, only 84 of the 1,790 directors whose films has been shown in competition at Cannes have been women - in other words, less than one in 20.

The latest edition doesn't buck the trend, with just three female directors among the 21 main competition contenders.

This is still better than the 2010 and 2012 festival editions, which featured all-male lineups.

While Cannes organisers acknowledge the gender inequality, they insist this merely reflects the underrepresentation of women directors in the cinema industry as a whole.

Jury duty

Australian actress Cate Blanchett heads this year's starry majority-female jury, which also includes Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux.

While Blanchett is the 12th chairwoman in the festival's 71-year history, only one woman director, Jane Campion in 2014, has had the honour.

She has said that Cannes needs to have an all-female jury one day to counter the decades of male domination.

Apart from the president, the jury is composed of four women and four men - a parity ratio observed since 2013.

Overall women fare slightly better as judges at Cannes, although it is still relative. One in five jury members have been women in its seven-decade history.

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