In Cannes, the women of the competition often only have consolation prizes

The more time passes, the more the lack of inclusivity in the cultural industry (and all industries, in fact) has difficulty passing. This is also the case at the Cannes Film Festival, where in recent years the absence of women and racialized people has been increasingly noticed by the media and the collectives. In 2018, during the previous edition, eighty-two women walked up the steps in silence to demand greater inclusion in the programming. At the end of this edition, and on the initiative of the collective 50/50Thierry Frémaux, general delegate of the festival, co-signed the chart for parity and diversity in film festivals.

Cannes has yet to prove itself on these issues. In seventy-two years, only one woman has won the Palme d’Or, Jane Campion in 1993. And again, she had to share it with Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige, since it was a joint award for The Piano Lesson and Farewell to my concubine. Of the twenty films competing for the Palme each year, there are between zero and four female directors in competition.

The 2019 selection did not break the record, with still four female filmmakers: Celine Sciamma, Justine Triet, Jessica Hausner and Mati Diop. The latter is also one of the few racialized women to have been selected in competition, since there have been less than ten since the first edition of the festival (among the most recent, we find Naomi Kawase, Nadine Labaki or Marjane Satrapi) .

Out of 72 editions of the festival, only 47 have had women competing. That means 25 exclusively male editions. Of course, Cannes is not just about competition for the Palme: the festival has other official selections such as Un certain regard, and parallel selections such as the Directors’ Fortnight or Critics’ Week. Some awards are inclusive by definition, such as the Queer Palm, an LGBT+ award that has existed for ten years.

But it must be recognized that it is the twenty-some films in competition which, each year, benefit from the greatest spotlight: they are the ones which are entitled to the climb of the steps, and which are mentioned during the closing ceremony. . As noted by Melissa Silverstein, founder of the site Women and Hollywood and the Athena Film Festival, “These are the films people walk the red carpet for, these are where the cameras are, and these are the films that everyone wants to see. This year, there are still only four women who will climb the stairs in competition and have this international visibility. […] And it puts so much pressure on these four women..

Since the beginning of the Cannes Film Festival, if we do not count the prize for female interpretation, only seventeen women have appeared in the prize list of the competition. Apart from the Palme d’Or, which has therefore only been won once by a woman, there are above all jury prizes, grand prizes, two directing awards (for Sofia Coppola and Ioulia Solntseva) or two screenplay awards (for Alice Rohrwacher and Lynne Ramsay). Five of those seventeen prizes tied with a man.

If we count the Caméra d’or, a prize awarded to the best first film, the award of which is included in the closing ceremony, the figures increase: there are eleven Camera d’or won by women, almost as much as the total number of women on the list since the start of the competition. In principle, the Caméra d’or can reward a film from any selection, including the competition. But in reality, it never happened. All the women who obtained this award were therefore not eligible for the Palme d’Or.

Out of competition, there are more women

In fact, there are almost always more women outside the competition, especially in Un certain regard, the other major section of the official selectionwhich has been entitled to its own award ceremony since 1998. This year, still no parity but women are almost as numerous as men, with 43% female directors. A step forward which the 50/50 collective welcomed.

Side parallel selections, same observation. The Directors’ Fortnight is doing a little better than the competition, but despite everything, parity is not quite there yet: the record is seven single women selected, out of an average of twenty films.

La Semaine de la critique, meanwhile, is the only parallel selection to have ever had more women than men (it only happened once, in 1990). Last year, the selection was equal, but this year there is only one woman in competition. However, there are two special screenings reserved for two directors, Hafsia Herzi and Aude Léa Rapin.

Within the juries, the change has also taken its time. Since the creation of the festival, 11 women have been presidents (out of 12 editions, because Jeanne Moreau has been president twice), against 58 men (out of 57 editions: the Coen brothers have presided together).

And the juries, as a whole, have been equal or almost only for a few years. In fact, out of 72 editions of the festival, 16 juries have been equal or almost equal (with 4 men and 5 women, or vice versa). And there were 4 perfectly equal: in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. In total, there are 170 women members of the jury against 574 men.

The traditional opening film, meanwhile, has only been directed by a woman twice in the history of the festival: in 1987 with A man in love by Diane Kurys, and in 2015 with Heads up by Emmanuelle Bercot.

With a record (admittedly low) of four women in competition this year, perhaps the Palme d’Or will be awarded to a woman… Answer on 25 May.

Infographics created by Diane Francès.

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In Cannes, the women of the competition often only have consolation prizes