Cannes lives up to its chauvinistic reputation once again with an all-male roster for its high-profile Critics’ Week program. This year’s jury president Ronit Elkabetz will have ten features to select a winner from — but none of them will be a woman like herself.
Since Critics’ Week is a showcase for first and second features, it’s especially discouraging to see that the power that be at Cannes, including Critics’ Week programmer Charles Tesson, couldn’t find a single female filmmaker who might represent the next generation of international cinema among the 1100 submissions this year — a fact that casts some doubt on the festival’s programming criteria.
Cannes’ General Delegate Thierry Fremaux did, however, praise the few high-profile films by women that did make the cut in the festival’s other sections.
“It’s an important subject, the question of the presence of women in world cinema,” he said in a recent interview. “Cannes was blasted in a way that was ultimately fair because it’s an important subject and one that I work on. But if Emmanuelle Bercot’s film [“Standing Tall”] was chosen to open Cannes this year, it’s not because she’s a woman, it’s because she made a beautiful movie. I feel no more proud to have Emmanuelle Bercot as the opening film than I do guilty when there are no women in competition. I don’t know whether the filmmakers are men or women, big or small, white or black or red, young or old. We select the films; we don’t choose according to the gender (of their directors). This year, there are no Spanish films in competition. That’s how it is.”
He continued, “If Cannes could solve all the problems of male domination (in world cinema), I would do it, but I don’t think that’s realistic. This year, the film by Valerie Donzelli [“Marguerite and Julien”] that’s in competition features a script by Jean Gruault, which was originally written for Francois Truffaut. Would Truffaut have made a masculine film? Did Donzelli make a women’s movie? I don’t know, but it’s an interesting question. Does Maiwenn (whose romance “Mon roi” was chosen for competition) make women’s movies? Alice Winocour, who is in Un Certain Regard (with “Maryland”), her film is almost a genre movie, so there you have it.”