Cannes: New Additions to Competition Slate Finally Break Long-Held Record for Female Filmmakers

After many stagnant years, the competition slate will finally include more than four films directed or co-directed by women.
Director Julia Ducournau, center, winner of the Palme d'Or for the film 'Titane' poses with Vincent Lindon, left, and Agathe Rousselle during a photo call following the awards ceremony at the 74th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, July 17, 2021. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Director Julia Ducournau, center, winner of the Palme d'Or for the film "Titane" poses with Vincent Lindon and Agathe Rousselle
Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

It took a few extra days — and years of advocacy — but the Cannes Film Festival has finally broken its long-held record for the number of female filmmakers premiering films in the Competition section. With today’s new addition to the slate, this year’s festival will debut five films directed or co-directed by women in competition for the first time ever.

As IndieWire reported last week, when the the bulk of this year’s lineup was announced, the festival again failed to bump up its representation of female filmmakers in the competition. At the time, the festival announced just three films directed by women had made the cut, with Claire Denis, Kelly Reichardt, and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi all in the section. Today, with a fleet of new films announced, they will be joined by Charlotte Vandermeersch, who co-directed new competition title “The Eight Mountains” with Felix Van Groeningen, and former Camera d’Or winner Leonor Serraille with her “Un Petit Frère.”

In recent years, the festival’s competition slate has stalled out when it comes to programming more than four films directed by women. Last year, the slightly delayed festival (which moved from May to July) hosted four films directed by women in the section out of a total of 24, which means just 16.6 percent of the section’s films were made by women, including new films from Ildikó Enyedi, Mia Hansen-Løve, Catherine Corsini, and Julia Ducournau, who went on to become only the second woman to win the Palme d’Or with her audacious “Titane.”

With today’s addition, that record finally falls. It also raises the percentage of total films directed or co-directed by women in competition to a new festival high of 23.8 percent. Across the entire official selection of 65 films, 15 were directed or co-directed by women, amounting to just under a quarter of the full slate.

The festival also added a number of female-directed films to other sections, including Emily Atef’s “More Than Ever,” Maha Haj’s “Mediterranean Fever,” and Maryam Touzani’s “The Blue Caftan” in Un Certain Regard, plus Doroteya Droumeva’s “The Vagabonds” and Amandine Fredon’s “Little Nicholas” (co-directed with Benjamin Massoubre) in special screenings.

The festival will run May 17 through May 28.

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