Cannes and women: only one Palme d’Or and 11 Presidents of the jury in 67 editions

President of the Jury of the next Cannes Film Festival, sole winner of the Palme d’Or (in 1993 for “The Piano Lesson”), Jane Campion has become the exception that confirms the rule. In Cannes, the presidents of the Jury are rare and the Palmes d’Or awarded to women even more… Focus on these rare female talents to have had this privilege!

Jane Campion entered “Le Guinness des Records du Festival de Cannes”. At 59, the famous New Zealand director, whose beauty of women’s portraits is well established, has once again been called back to the Croisette. President of the Jury of the 67th Cannes Film Festival, which will be held from May 14 to 25, Campion was already, last year, at the head of the Short Film and Cinéfondation Jury. She was also present to receive the Carrosse d’or awarded by the society of film directors and, on this occasion, her series Top of the Lake was presented at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. Just that ! However, the Cannes honors awarded to Jane Campion do not stop there and make her one of the exceptions of the Cannes Film Festival: the exception made woman.

Only one Palm awarded to a woman

In 1986, Jane Campion became the first woman to win the Palme d’or for short film for Peel, an exercise in discipline before being named in official competition in 1989 for her first feature film, Sweetie. But, Campion is above all the first and only female director to have ever won the prestigious Palme d’Or in 1993 for The Piano Lesson. Even if the price is then shared with Chen Kaige and his Farewell my concubine, Jane Campion remains an isolated case. Because in Cannes and in the world of cinema, female directors very rarely exist.

Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents

That the Palme d’Or has been awarded to a woman only once is more than disturbing. That the Oscar for Best Director was awarded for the first time to a director in 2010 (Kathryn Bigelow for Minesweepers) is just as important. But the scarcity of major awards given to women has at least the merit of clearly raising the eternal imbalance between the number of men and women behind the camera. This year, Hollywood has still recorded a very small percentage of films directed by women. In 2012, a heavy controversy shook Cannes when the 22 films in competition turned out to be all made by men. If the question of misogyny had then been quickly swept away by the organizers, President Gilles Jacob had all the same admitted at the microphone of The Observer that it was a “shame“that one and only woman has received the Palme d’Or, also raising another truth: “Cinema is dominated by men and Cannes is only a reflection of cinema”.

If this disparity therefore affects a large part of the cinema and still seems far from being ready to dissolve, the small bursts of hope are always good to take. Last year, the Jury awarded the Palme d’Or to Abdellatif Kechiche for La Vie d’Adèle but also to his two actresses without whom the film would not be the film. Let us also remember that in 2009, while presenting Bright Star at Cannes, Jane Campion spoke on this subject by declaring: “I would love to see more female directors because they represent half of the population and give birth to the whole Earth. Until they write and direct, we’ll never have the full picture.” If Campion cannot revolutionize the world of cinema in 11 days, she will undoubtedly give us an exciting new opinion on the question…

11 presidents for… 67 editions

Very well, the Palme d’Or is not yet for female directors. But, what is the place of women in the other important “positions” of the Cannes Film Festival? It’s no secret that the Festival likes to have mistresses of ceremony, the post having been awarded almost exclusively to women (with the exception of Vincent Cassel in 2006, Edouard Baer in 2008 and 2009 and Lambert Wilson This year). On the other hand, the Presidency of the Jury is rarely entrusted to a woman (but much more so than the Palme d’or, isn’t it!). Since 1946, the year of the first Cannes Film Festival, i.e. for 67 years, only 11 women (Jeanne Moreau being counted twice) have been in charge of the Jury.

1651887166 301 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents1965 – Olivia de Havilland

It was on the occasion of its 18th edition that the Festival decided to appoint its very first President of the Jury. At 48, Olivia de Havilland, already emblematic thanks to her roles in Gone with the Wind or The Heiress, and already holder of two Oscars, takes in hand a Jury composed only of men, including André Maurois or Alain Robbe -Grill.

Grand Prize awarded: The Knack… and how to get it, by Richard Lester

1651887166 138 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents1966 – Sophia Loren

In 1966 (ie the following year!) the Festival again named a woman: Sophia Lauren. The Italian is only 32 years old but already 15 years of career and an Oscar. This is the one and only time that the Festival will appoint a woman to the Presidency for two consecutive years. Again, the 1966 jury is made up of many writers including Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono, but also director Richard Lester, the big winner of the previous edition.

Grand Prize of the Festival: A Man and a Woman by Claude Lelouch, tied with These Gentlemen and Ladies by Pietro Germi

1651887166 174 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents1971 – Michele Morgan

The 1970s will be the decade with the most female Presidents. Michèle Morgan opened the ball in 1971 for the 24th edition of the Festival and chaired a Jury composed in particular of Sergio Leone. At the time, Morgan and her beautiful eyes had already won the prize for best interpretation at Cannes in 1946. She was also the first French woman to win this distinction.

Grand Prize of the Festival: The Messenger of Joseph Losey

1651887166 629 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents1973 – Ingrid Bergman

Two years later, it is again an actress who is assigned the role of President. With Casablanca, Les Enchaînés and so many other films, Ingrid Bergman is then one of the most essential actresses of international cinema who has already won two Oscars (the third awaiting her two years later). In her Jury, the Swedish actress notably includes Sydney Pollack.

Grand Prize of the Festival: The Scarecrow by Jerry Schatzberg and The Misunderstanding by Alan Bridges

1651887166 362 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents1975 – Jeanne Moreau

In 1975, the Palme d’Or was finally rehabilitated under the Presidency of our national Jeanne Moreau. At 47, the latter has already won the prize for best actress at Cannes in 1960.

Palme d’Or: Chronicle of the Burning Years, by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina

1651887166 454 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents

1979 – Francoise Sagan

The author of Hello Sadness and Bruises to the soul becomes the President of the 32nd Cannes Film Festival for a vintage of a rare exception (Coppola, Malick, Doillon, Herzog, etc.). At the time, Sagan had already collaborated for the cinema, in particular with Claude Chabrol for Landru and also directed a short film, Encore un hiver and a feature, Les Fougeres bleues. If in its first years, the Festival had many writers as President of the Jury, the 1970s marked the end of this period. Sagan is also the only female writer to have ever been president of the Jury and, in 1983, the reign of writers/president died out with William Styron.

Palme d’Or: Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola and The Drum by Volker Schlöndorff

1651887166 362 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents1995 – Jeanne Moreau

The 80s will not count any woman President of the Cannes Jury. When in 1995, this pattern was finally broken, the organization chose to recall Jeanne Moreau, 20 years after her first appointment. Two years later, she will also be invited to be mistress of ceremonies.

Palme d’Or: Underground by Emir Kusturica

1651887167 680 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents1997 – Isabelle Adjani

For its fiftieth edition, the Cannes Film Festival appoints President one of our greatest actresses, Isabelle Adjani. At 42, the one who refused the job in 1990 is involved in the composition of the Jury, which will be composed of Mira Sorvino, Nanni Moretti or Tim Burton. From this experience, Isabelle Adjani will keep a somewhat bitter memory, having felt that she was scolded by Nanni Moretti on the awarding of the two Palmes.

Palme d’Or: The Eel by Shohei Imamura and The Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami

1651887167 519 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents

2001 – Liv Ullman

This edition was to be chaired by Jodie Foster. But, retained on the Panic Room of David Fincher, the actress gives up the post which will return to the actress/director norwegian Liv Ullmann. Its jury, then very mixed, will notably be composed of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sandrine Kiberlain, Julia Ormond and Terry Gilliam. During the 50th edition, Liv Ullman was also present in Cannes to present the Palme des Palmes to Ingmar Bergman (or rather to his daughter), whose lover and muse she was.

Palme d’Or: The Bedroom of the Son of Nanni Moretti

1651887167 46 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents2009 – Isabelle Huppert

Eight years after Liv Ullmann, the Festival is once again calling on a woman to chair the Jury. It is once again one of our emblematic actresses, Isabelle Huppert, who takes on this task one year after Sean Penn. Huppert has already won two Cannes Prizes: in 1978 for Violette Nozière and in 2001 for La Pianiste. Haneke also won the Palme under his presidency, raising suspicions, the two talents having collaborated twice together (three times since, with Love). Since this edition, the presidency of the Jury has never again returned to an actor but always to directors (Tim Burton, Robert de Niro, Nanni Moretti, Steven Spielberg and today, Jane Campion).

Palme d’Or: The White Ribbon, by Michael Haneke

1651887167 111 Cannes and women only one Palme dOr and 11 Presidents2013 – Jane Campion

Only a few more weeks before knowing what this 67th edition will hold under the sign of Jane Campion…

In 2009, Gilles Jacob told us about Isabelle Huppert, then President of the Jury…

Raphaelle Raux-Moreau


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Cannes and women: only one Palme d’Or and 11 Presidents of the jury in 67 editions