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Sign the Petition! Where Are the Women Directors?

Sign the Petition! Where Are the Women Directors?

It’s been very interesting to watch the opening of the Cannes Film Festival.  In light of the fact that there are no women directors in competition and the great work of La Barbe, at the opening press conference the jury as well as the directors of the festival were confronted with a barrage of questions about the issue.

I remember two years ago when there were no women directors in competition and there was a petition started “You Cannes Not Be Serious” but there was not that much media converage and that was just after Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy Award for best director.

What a difference two years makes.  The media and the public (thanks to social media) are way more attuned to this issue and we refuse to let the issue rest.

I feel for Andrea Arnold — the only female director on the jury — for having to be the representative to speak out on the topic.  She spoke about her disappoinment but not surprise but defended the festival against sexism.  It’s a tough spot for any director to be put in, even one as feminst as Arnold.  Here’s what she said:

In response to this continuing problem, Women and Hollywood has put together a petition directed to the jurors of the festival.  Here it is:

You will spend the next 11 days watching 22 films that the programmers and leaders of the Cannes Film Festival deemed to be the worthiest of this year’s competition.

The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious festivals in the world.  Festival Films including last year’s Oscar winner The Artist have gone on to have long and successful lives, and filmmakers’ careers have been launched on the Croisette.  As we all know, the opportunities to have your film seen on a world stage is invaluable.

For the 2012 edition, as with the 2010 edition, there are NO FEMALE DIRECTED FILMS in competition, and in the 64 years of the Festival only one woman — Jane Campion — has been awarded the Palme D’Or.

Read the rest of the petition and join the over 1,000 people calling for transparency in the selection process.

I want to thank everyone for their support and help.

Here are some media stories about the petition:

Women on Cannes red carpet — but not in directors’ chairs (LA Times)

In 65 Years of the Cannes Film Festival, Only One Woman Has Been Awarded the Palme D’Or (Jezebel)

Cannes 2012: 700 Protesters Sign Petition Demanding More Women Directors (Hollywood Reporter)

Cannes 2012 Sexist? Lack Of Woman Directors In Competition Spurs Outrage (Huffington Post)

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Melissa M. Wilson

Once again Women are treated like second class citizens. It is so obvious that Cannes has only $$$$ in it's eyes, and women still fall short economicaly. Hard to get a leg up when you are overlooked in an arena where the art of film should be genderless. So many incredible and interesting women directors out there just waiting for a chance to dazzle us with their work. Women are the stronger sex and so I know that female directors will never keep plugging away. Shame on you SNOOTY CANNES JUDGES!

Karyl Miller

I LOVE your website. Just thought you might like to see this column I wrote for Daily Variety in 1996 regarding women directors.


I think women can be better director, because they are the perfectionist and have better ability to understand handled other's point of view.


You know what I'd love? A woman to do some of the comicbook-hero/action movie remakes that have been coming out. I bet a woman would understand the nuances of the cannon and not have loused up the upcoming TMNT movie the way Micheal Bay has done.

We need more sensitive, creative, inspired people in Hollywood, period, both in the independent films and in "regular" movie-making. I'm frankly sick of cookie-cutter movies and stock characters, and triply sick of badly-done remakes of my childhood favorites. :-p This is one film-goer who won't be spending any money in the theater anytime soon, and honestly I'm thinking of dropping my cable entirely because I just don't bother watching television these days.

Claudia Cifuentes

There needs to be more support for female directors from the get go. Ladies, put your money where your mouth is! :) I've got a live kickstarter. Female director and producers. Only days left to fund but we can't do it without you. #womensupportingeachother –


For example, an indie film company might have a slate of 4-5 films. If the directors or producers of those films do not have an established relationship with Cannes, the company hires a consultant to review the films and decide which films on their slate are submitted to the selection committee. Usually producers are trying to figure out the best/most appropriate festival for their film in advance, rather than risk being rejected.

The real problem is a woman director rarely makes it onto the slate of films. If there was a similar situation where 50% of the medical schools or law schools were graduating women, yet the number of women working in those professions was going down, there would be massive lawsuits. It's not clear how to address the gender inequity in the film business, shame doesn't appear to be working.


Michele, I believe there is a selection committee that chooses the films. It's not so easy getting your film in front of the selection committee. You don't just drop it in the mail, if you know what I mean. The jury reviews the selected films in competition and gives out the awards. They probably need more women on the selection committee and need to do greater outreach. You have an established connection for them to even consider the film. All the major festivals operate this way, this is nothing specific to Cannes. That's why you see some of the same directors year after year.

I do believe the lack of competition worthy women directors has to be addressed from the financed side as well. You can't blame the festivals when films directed by women never even get made. There's also a big problem with women getting financing for their second feature. I can name a number of male directors who lost big money on the first feature and still got a second chance.

izzy Knutz

This petition is so apropos to this topic/ discussion. I encourage people to read it and sign…time again to mix things up.

I am trying to get the word out on this petition. I just signed this forwarded petition: Hollywood executives in film and television: Level the playing field for all people of color and for women.

The organizer is trying to collect 100 signatures.

To read more about this petition and sign the petition letter, click here:

Full initiative write up at

It'll just take a minute!

Once you're done, please ask your friends to sign the petition as well. Grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to spread the word!



migdia chinea

Well, I am here — !!!!!!!

Katharina Kahler

There are women in the Jury – so what does that mean ?

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