It is very rare for jury members to openly criticize competition films. The jury had just awarded Sofia Coppola with the best director honor for “The Beguiled,” only the second time a woman had been recognized. Lynne Ramsay won best screenplay for “You Were Never Really Here” in a tie. Chastain recognized these achievements, but found most of the selection lacking.
“I do believe that if you have more female storytellers, you also have more authentic female characters,” she said, her voice shaking somewhat. “This is the first time that I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies. And the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women. From the female characters that I saw represented. And it was quite disturbing to me, to be honest. There are some exceptions, I will say. But for the most part I was surprised with the representation of female characters on screen in these films.”
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Chastain paused to catch her breath, and jury president Pedro Almodóvar nodded and audibly vocalized his agreement. The Spanish director is known for centering complex women in his films.
“I do hope that when we include more female storytellers we will have more of the kinds of women that I recognize in my day to day life. Ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them, they have their own point of view.”
It was a very powerful moment, and encouraging to see Chastain supported by her fellow jury members. Such as Will Smith, who added: “A couple of black folks won’t hurt there either. We’ll talk about that in another time.”
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 29, 2017