In a year dominated by the #MeToo movement, France’s 71st Cannes Film Festival – which started on 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 4 per cent – have been women, an analysis by AFP shows.
New Zealand’s Jane Campion remains the only woman director to have received the highest accolade, the Palme d’Or, awarded for her masterpiece, The Piano, in 1993.
Iranian prodigy Samira Makhmalbaf won 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 prizewinner was Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, who took home the Grand Prix for The Wonders in 2014.
She is back in the running this year with Happy as Lazzaro.
Director’s cut, or not
Women have made up barely 3.5 per cent of the best director and best screenplay winners over the past seven decades.
Only four of the 111 winners have been women – 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, British filmmaker Lynne Ramsay won best screenplay for her work on A Beautiful Day.
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 women directors among the 21 main competition contenders.
This is still better than the 2010 and 2012 festival editions, which featured line-ups made up only of men.
While Cannes organisers acknowledge the gender inequality, they insist this merely reflects the underrepresentation of women directors in the cinema industry as a whole.
Australian actress Cate Blanchett is president of this year’s starry majority of women on the Cannes Film Festival’s jury, which also includes Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux.
While Blanchett is the 12th women to be jury president 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 a jury made up entirely of women one day to counter the decades of domination by men.
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.