UPDATED, April 24: With the addition of new titles to this year’s festival, Cannes will, for the first time ever, premiere seven films directed by women in the competition section.
After finally breaking its own long-held record last year, this year’s Cannes Film Festival will once again feature more female directors in its starry competition section than ever in its 76-year history. While last year marked the first time the French festival programmed five films directed or co-directed by women in competition, 2023 marks a new uptick: it will be the first year the fest includes six films from female directors competing for the Palme d’Or.
Announced this morning, this year’s Cannes competition slate includes new films from Alice Rohrwacher (“La Chimera”), Jessica Hausner (“Club Zero”), Catherine Breillat (“Last Summer”), Justine Triet (“Anatomie d’une chute”), Ramata-Toulaye Sy (“Banel et Adama), and Kaouther Ben Hania (“Olfa’s Daughters”). With 19 films currently on the slate, that means a full 31.5 percent of them hail from female creators, a brand-new Cannes record. (Also of note: Sy is only the second Black woman to ever earn a slot in the competition lineup; the first was Mati Diop in 2019.)
Additionally, as was previously (and controversially) announced, the festival will open with the Johnny Depp-starring film “Jeanne du Barry,” directed by Maïwenn, though that film is not in competition.
The 2022 competition section of the festival included five films directed or co-directed by women for the first time ever, including new films from Claire Denis, Kelly Reichardt, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, and Charlotte Vandermeersch. Those picks also raised the percentage of total films directed or co-directed by women in competition to a new festival high of 23.8 percent.
In recent years, the festival’s competition slate stalled out when it came to programming more than four films directed by women. Programming beyond four women just seemed impossible to the tony festival, even with other wins (including some literal ones) unfolding for female filmmakers elsewhere and at other festivals.
In 2021, 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.”
Cannes didn’t program four competition titles from women until 2011 (the year after that milestone, in 2012, no women made it into the section). Between 2016-2018, only three female filmmakers made it into competition each year; in 2019, the festival again notched four female directors in competition. (The festival was canceled in 2020, though it did announce which films would have been programmed, had the COVID pandemic not upended the world, though festival brass did not use the usual designations for those films, and there was no “competition section.”)
This year’s Cannes slate also boasts a number of other exciting titles directed by women in other sections, including Un Certain Regard titles from Molly Manning Walker, Monia Chokri, Renée Nader Messora, Asmae El Moudir, Stephanie di Giusto, and Delphine Deloget. Other sections and sidebars, including Critics’ Week (which just announced that “Happening” director Audrey Diwan will lead its jury), have yet to be announced, and more films may join today’s listings in the coming days.
The festival runs May 16-27.