The (Slow) Progress of the Cannes Film Festival for Women

The Cannes Film Festival is the most prestigious film event of the year, but it falters in showcasing female directed films. Based on the infographic by Women and Hollywood, 16% of the competition films this year are directed by women, a meager 2% more than last year. In addition, the female directors in competition are regular to Cannes, suggesting that the film festival is not only playing it safe, but they are also not looking for diversity in  women directors. For the Un Certain Regard portion, 28% of films of are directed by females, while the Special Screenings segment will feature five female-directed works of the sixteen films.

Many of the festival films being shown this year are political, touching on the divisive issues affecting the world, such as the migrant crisis, animal exploitation, mental health and more. But by having a majority of male directors in the significant categories of the festival, it demonstrates the patriarchal nature of movie business, which in turn makes it difficult for female creators.

Picture of Sofia Coppola

However, Cannes may already be working on improving these statistics. The Short Film Competition will show nine finalist submissions, three of which are directed by females. And the Cinéfondation segment will show 16 finalist submissions, with female directed films making up a whooping 44%. That’s seven films, almost half of the total amount of the films. This has to be reiterated because, especially for the Cinéfondation competition, this is a reflection of the future of cinema. The Cinéfondation received 2,600 submissions by film school students from all over the world and to end up with half of the final selection being female-helmed is exciting. This looks like  progress. The patriarchal problem isn’t solved, but the future may be looking better for female directors.

Here is a list of all the female directed works being shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Check them out!

From Hikari, directed by Naomi Kawase

  • The Competition
    • The Beguiled, directed by Sofia Coppola
    • You Were Never Really Here, directed by Lynne Ramsay
    • Hikari (Radiance), directed by Naomi Kawase
  • Un Certain Regard
    • The Desert Bride, directed by Cecilia Atan and Valeria Pivato
    • Beauty and the Dogs, directed by Kaouther Ben Hania
    • Western, directed by Valeska Grisebach
    • Jeune Femme, directed by Léonor Serraille
    • After the War, directed by Annarita Zambrano
  • Out of Competition
    • Visages, Villages, co-directed by Agnès Varda

From Sea Sorrow, directed by Vanessa Redgrave

  • Special Screenings
    • An Inconvenient Sequel, co-directed by Bonni Cohen
    • They, directed by Anahita Ghazvinizadeh
    • Sea Sorrow, directed by Vanessa Redgrave
    • Top of the Lake: China Girl, co-directed by Jane Campion (TV)
    • “Come Swim,” directed by Kristen Stewart
  • Cinefondation
    • “À Perdre Haleine (Breathless),” directed by Léa Krawczyk
    • “Afternoon Clouds,” directed by Payal Kapadia
    • “Camouflage,” directed by Imge Özbilge
    • “Give Up The Ghost,” directed by Marian Mathias
    • “Paul Est Là (Paul Is Here)”, directed by Valentina Maurel
    • “Tokeru,” directed by Aya Igashi
    • “Yin Shian Bien Jian Gon Lu (Towards the Sun),” directed by Yi-lina Wang
  • Short Films
    • “Across My Land,” directed by Fiona Godivier
    • “Pépé Le Morse (Grandpa Walrus),” directed by Lucrèce Andreae
    • “Push It,” directed by Julia Thelin