USA Today - 2012 Cannes festival deals with sexism claims

By Bryan Alexander,

(FromL) German actressDiane Kruger, British director and scriptwriter Andrea Arnold, Italian director and president of the jury Nanni Morettih actress Emmanuelle Devos pose during the photocall of the jury of the 65th Cannes film festival on May 16, 2012 in Cannes.

What is clear looking at the slate of films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival — there are no films from women directors. Zero. A big goose egg.
That’s not a good thing for a population group that represents roughly 50 percent of the world.
What is at issue is if this reality is due to the nature of the film business or the selection process for Cannes this year.
A petition on the activism website with the headline "Where are the female directors ?" places a good share of blame on the festival. It features close to 900 signatures including feminist icon Gloria Steinem, director Gillian Armstrong and producer Darla Anderson.
"For the 2012 edition, as with the 2010 edition, there are NO FEMALE DIRECTED FILMS in competition," the petition reads. "We call for Cannes, and other film festivals worldwide, to commit to transparency and equality in the selection process of these films."
Festival Director Thierry Frémaux has responded to the claim, telling a French newspaper that the issue is a global concern. But the issue has come up repeatedly at the festival, especially during a press conference introducing the festival jury. Jury member Diane Kruger pointed out that she was at the festival last year with a film directed by a woman.
"My impression is women are very welcome in Cannes," said Kruger. "But there were no films made by women this year in the official selection."
British director Andrea Arnold pointed out that in 2011 there were three films directed by women in the competition.
"It was a good year," she said of 2011. "It’s true the world over that there are just not many women directors. Cannes is a small pocket that represents how it is out there in the world."
"I would absolutely hate it if my film was selected because I was a woman," Arnold added. "I would want my film to be selected for the right reasons. And not out of charity because I’m a female."
Her discussion on the matter grew slightly testy when she pointed out that for the press conference, she and the women members of the jury were introduced before the men.
"I don’t know if I should say this, but I was thinking when you introduced us, that you introduced the girls first," Arnold told longtime press conference moderator Henri Behar.
"Well I’m French," Behar responded.
"I know it’s manners," Arnold said. "It’s weird because I’m not used to it. And I was wondering if it should be done in alphabetical order. I’m sorry I don’t mean to be rude."
"Let’s have a coffee over it," said Behar.

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