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Jessica Chastain Blasts Portrayal Of Women In This Year’s Cannes Films As ‘Quite Disturbing’

In a rare and shocking move, Chastain and other jury members openly criticized the selected films' dearth of authentic female characters.

Jessica Chastain cannes

Jessica Chastain

Shutterstock / Denis Makarenko

Jessica Chastain and other members of the Cannes jury strongly condemned the representation of women in the competition films at the 2017 festival.

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.

READ MORE: Cannes 2017: Sofia Coppola Makes History as the Second Female Filmmaker to Win Best Director

“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.”

Paolo Sorrentino, Jessica Chastain, Pedro AlmodovarCANNES: Meeting of the Jury, Cannes, France - 16 May 2017

Paolo Sorrentino, Jessica Chastain, Pedro Almodovar

face to face/REX/Shutterstock

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.

READ MORE: 2017 Cannes Winners: ‘The Square’ Wins the Palme D’or, Sofia Coppola and Joaquin Phoenix Also Honored

“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.”

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