The French feminist group La Barbe which was started several years ago in response to the sexist media treatment of Segolene Royal in her race against Nicholas Sarkozy, has taken on one of the most sexist film establishments, the Cannes Film Festival for its exclusion of female directors from this year's competition. They are kind of like the Guerilla Girls in that they dress up in beards and as they say "crash high level meetings to protest male supremacy."
They published a piece this weekend in Le Monde to raise awareness of the issue. Here it is translated – reprinted with permission
The Cannes film festival 2012: a Man is a Man is a Man!
"What has changed in cinema? Everything has changed!" Exclaimed Gilles Jacob, President of the Cannes film festival, during the presentation of the 65th Festival de Cannes film nominations. ‘Everything?!’ For one second we trembled. But for no reason, it turned out, as the twenty-two officially selected movies — happy coincidence — were directed by twenty-two men. This 65th festival will therefore lead to giving the precious award to a male director for the 63rd time, thus unfailingly defending the masculine values which give the Seventh Art its nobility.
Only once did the Cannes film festival lose heart. In 1993, the Palme d'Or was indeed awarded to Jane Campion, a she-director – an obnoxious term which would corrupt any language as it does the great Seventh Art. And last year, doubtless due to a lack of vigilance, four women somehow sneaked themselves in among the twenty people nominated in the official competition. Thierry Frémeaux, Director General, correctly remarked, " It is the first time that there are so many women." How weak! All the more unforgivable as in 2011 the Césars displayed a dignified example by not selecting any women in the categories of " Best movie " or the " Best Director."
Sirs, you came to your senses and we are glad. The Cannes film festival 2012 applauds Wes, Jacques, Leos, David, Lee, Andrew, Matteo, Michael, John, Hong, Im, Abbas, Ken, Serguei, Cristian, Yousry, Jeff, Alain, Carlos, Walter, Ulrich, Thomas, who show us once again that "men are fond of depth in women, but only in their cleavage."
This exemplary selection sends a powerful message to professionals and audiences all around the world. Because what else if not the movies, what event other than Cannes, the most prestigious festival in the world, could herald this unchanging message? With great understanding of the monumental importance of such an event, you were able to dissuade women from aspiring to set foot in this well-guarded scene. Above all, never let the girls think they can someday have the presumptuousness of making movies or to climb those famous Festival Palace steps except when attached to the arm of a Prince Charming.
Is it not enough for them to aspire to be mistress of ceremonies someday during the Festival's opening night? Bérénice Béjo in 2012, Mélanie Laurent in 2011, Kristin Scott-Thomas in 2010, women are perfect hostesses, who are perfectly happy with a simple, " you have beautiful eyes, you know ", or other well-uttered compliments. Disturbing icons as well whom you manage to leave where they belong: on display. As you can see from festival posters: this year Marilyn Monroe is the one we celebrate, in 2011 Juliette Binoche, in 2009 Monica Vitti, and in 1989 the Republican Marianne.(feminine symbol representing the French Nation) In 1976 the naked buttocks of a woman were honored. What could our muses complain about? They are celebrated for their essential qualities: beauty, grace, lightness… Let us preserve them from the torments of bossing around a film crew, let us spare them the painful confrontation with the technical puzzles of a film set. Why allow them to bore themselves in the Festival Steering Committee where important decisions are made, where only male presidents have ruled since its creation? Let us go on giving only men the heavy load of repulsive duties. Let us be even better than Hollywood where only 77% men still sit on the Oscars' Academy.
Women, mind your spools of thread! and Men, as the Lumière Brothers did before you, mind your film reels! And Let the Cannes Film Festival Competition Forever be a Man's World!
La Barbe !
(The Beard) feminist direct action group.
Sign the petition Cannes 2012: A Man is a Man and be a part of the effort to say that we are no longer going to take these affronts in silence. That women's voices matter and that every time women are dismissed and ignored and not counted we will be there with out voices loud and proud to make sure that people know that this is unacceptable.
And if you want to really get into it join the protest at this year's Festival. You will need to wear a fake beard. If you want to join the protest email: firstname.lastname@example.org.