As the Hollywood Grands Prix experience earthquakes of all kinds, the return of Cannes 2021 it has taken place, according to the custom of the festival, in the old way. Or, if you prefer, “old”. Something that has been noted both in the reading of the selected films (slow and calm, instead of a machine-gunning of names)… and in the female presence in said selection.
Julia Ducournau (Titanium), Mia Hansen-Løve (Bergman Island), Catherine Corsini (The divide) e Ildikó Enyedi (The Story of My Wife) are the only filmmakers who have entered the Official Section of the festival, and who, therefore, will compete for the Golden palm this summer. Given that this section covers a total of 23 films, films signed by women represent a testimonial quota.
Faced with this, it can be said that the participating directors are either established authors (Hansen-Løve) or new values on the way to the heights (we want to see what Ducournau comes up with after Raw, not?).
Proponents of Cannes will also argue that the rest of the festival sections also include female directors in a much higher proportion. For starters, the very influential A certain look includes Tatiana Huezo (Fire night), Hafsia Herzi (Good mother), Jessica Geneus (Freda) Y Laura Wandel (A world). To which must be added the names of the participants in Cannes Premiere, Andrea Arnold and Eva Husson.
But the question remains what it is. While the Oscars, for example, make their inclusion of directors such as the award-winning Chloe Zhao (Nomadland), Cannes continues to maintain its masculine club appearance.
It’s no use that Thierry fremaux declared the festival’s commitment to gender equality in an interview with IndieWire (June 1). Nor does it justify the absence of female filmmakers by pointing out the lack of female presence in the industry.
“There is still a lot to do: in many countries, the presence of female directors is not strong enough”, commented the general delegate of the festival in this talk. But it also promised that French cinema would bring about an improvement in the situation. “I hope that the Official Section can bear witness to that,” he concluded.
Ironically, this prophecy of Frémaux has been fulfilled… in that way: the definitive list of the Official Selection includes a majority of French filmmakers (Ducournau, Hansen-Løve and Corsini, with the Hungarian Enyedi as the only exception).
For the rest, it does not seem that things are going to change much: Jane Campion (The piano, 1993) remains the only director to have won a Palme d’Or in the entire history of Cannes. This year, competing against arthouse titans like Léos Carax, Wes Anderson, Apitchapong Weerasethakul O Jacques Audiard, None of the filmmakers in the competition are likely to take that sad title from the New Zealander.
The presiding jury Spike Lee it might surprise us, of course. And the structural reasons that Frémaux points to for this lack of gender parity cannot be underestimated. But let’s think about this: unlike the Oscars (which limit their fishing ground to the US industry), Cannes has all the cinematography on Earth to choose from.
Are there really not enough women in film around the world, and talented enough, to give the competition a little more diversity? That is a question that only the contest management can answer. We regret, yes, that here there will be none Natalie Portman to point out that of “Here are the nominees, (almost) all of them men.”