Jane Campion is Cannes Jury President this year, and she’s using her platform to speak out against sexism in the film industry. While Campion is known for being outspoken about gender inequity in the filmmaking world, it’s especially great that she is bold enough to criticize the industry — and by extension Cannes — while being honored with the position and title of Jury President. Campion is the only woman in the festival’s history to be awarded the Palme d’Or (for helming The Piano in 1993). Rather than congratulating herself on being the exception, Campion rued the fact that recognizing women’s work in the industry isn’t the norm. Our colleagues at Indiewire report that Campion “appeared visibly uncomfortable” when a moderator at Cannes jury press conference referred to her as “Lady Palme.” Her discomfort seems to stem from the fact that she is not a Lady Palme but the Lady Palme — the only Lady Palme, and that’s somehow seen as acceptable.
Campion went on to say:
“… There is some inherent sexism in the industry. Thierry Frémaux told us that us only seven percent, out of the 1,800 films submitted to the Cannes Film Festival, were directed by women. He was proud to say that we had 20 percent in all of the programs. Nevertheless, it feels very undemocratic, and women do notice. Time and time again we don’t get our share of representation. Excuse me gentlemen, but the guys seem to eat all the cake. It’s not that I resent the male filmmakers. I love all of them. But there is something that women are thinking of doing that we don’t get to know enough about. It’s always a surprise when a woman filmmaker does come about.”
Campion is right — women do notice. We’ve been severely underrepresented at Cannes. Perhaps Cannes should realize that they have a problem when so few women submit films. Isn’t it possible that female filmmakers have been deterred from entering their films for consideration because they too know Jane Campion as Lady Palme, the only woman to ever win the competition? The odds are against them. It may be necessary for Cannes to be proactive and find more films directed by women — they are certainly out there.