Today marks the annual ritual which feels almost like torture — the unveiling of the Cannes Film Festival lineup. This year the main competition boasts three female directed films out of 20 — that’s 15 percent. Last year it was two out of 19. Cannes is one of the biggest media events in the world. This year there are a bunch of movies about women, but when women are not visible as the storytellers or the visionaries, the message it sends is that we are not good enough to tell these stories and that the way we tell them is inferior.
We are used to women not getting opportunities on big budget Hollywood films — though we disagree vehemently and will continue to push for change — but most of the movies that play Cannes, especially the ones in the main competition, are not big budget films. Many of them receive funding from their respective countries which comes from tax money, and so in some ways this hurts even more. This is a constant reminder that it’s not only about money, it’s about vision, and the constant reminder that women’s visions are not as grand as men’s.
Of the Cannes Film Festival main competition slate, three films are directed by women, and we had all three on our wish list. As we suspected, Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey” made the slate. Arnold’s first two films, “Red Road” and “Fish Tank” screened in competition at Cannes in 2006 and 2009, with both films winning the Jury Prize. “American Honey” follows a teenage girl who joins a traveling magazine sales crew and crosses the midwest. The coming-of-age road movie marks her first American film and stars “Heaven Knows What” breakout Arielle Holmes, Riley Keough from “Mad Max Fury Road” and Shia LaBeouf.
Our instincts were right on Nicole Garcia as well. Her film “From the Land of the Moon,” stars Cannes regular Marion Cotillard as an independent-minded woman during the two decades after the end of World War II. Silver Bear-winner Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdman” follows a man who begins to play pranks on his adult daughter after he finds she has become too serious.
Here’s the entirety of women-directed films playing at Cannes:
“Toni Erdman,” directed by Maren Ade
“American Honey,” directed by Andrea Arnold
“From the Land of the Moon,” directed by Nicole Garcia
Un Certain Regard
“Voir du Pays,” directed by Delphine Coulin & Muriel Coulin
“La Danseuse,” directed by Stéphanie Di Giusto
“Omar Shakhsiya,” directed by Maha Haj
“La Large Noche de Francisco Sanctis,” co-directed by Andrea Testa
Out of Competition
“Money Monster,” directed by Jodie Foster
As we suspected, Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster” is screening out of competition. The film focuses on a TV personality, financial guru Lee Gates (George Clooney), who is taken hostage by a viewer (Jack O’Connell, “Unbroken”). Meanwhile, the show’s producer (Julia Roberts) tries to defuse the crisis — which involves a bomb-rigged vest that Lee is forced to wear at gun point. Per the gunman’s request, all of it is televised live.
This dismal lack of women directors at the Cannes film festival is just as bad as last year, at which time we were so frustrated that we launched the #SeeHerNow coalition to support women filmmakers. We haven’t added all the 2016 numbers yet, but here’s a reminder from last year of where we were. This year won’t be any better.
It’s incredibly disheartening, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating the women who were at Cannes in 2015. And we won’t stop celebrating the women at Cannes this year either. With Kering repeating its Women in Motion Program for the second year, we’re anxious to see what subjects come up during the many panels that the program offers. We can’t wait to hear what the women have to say.