Cannes ’12 Brouhaha

From The BEZ’ Cannes Diary:

Festival opens to controversy over lack of female-directed films

“Festival Director Thierry Fremaux responded by saying he agrees women lack opportunities to make films…”

Mon Cher M. Fremaux,

Wrong diagnosis = wrong cure. The problem is not the lack of new opportunities for  female filmmakers; the problem is lack of respect for the work already done by female filmmakers. As I demonstrate in my new book Penny’s Picks, the films are there, but what’s missing are the audiences.

We can all agree on this: “Cannes could not, he said, start choosing films based strictly on the gender of the filmmaker.” But the question is this: exactly who is “Cannes” in this instance?

Presumably “Cannes” is a selection committee, so we need to know its make up. Is this committee gender-balanced? Do the number of women on this committee equal the number of men? And are the women on this committee commensurate in power influence, & accountability?



Au revoir,


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    From Melissa Silverstein at Women and Hollywood (

    Inspired by the French group La Barbe’s Manifesto, I put together the petition below which I hope you will sign.

    Please make your voices heard.

    Thank you-

    Melissa Silverstein
    Women and Hollywood


    To the Jurors of the Cannes Film Festival:

    You will spend the next 11 days watching 22 films that the programmers and leaders of the Cannes Film Festival deemed to be the most worthy of this year’s competition.

    The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious festivals in the world. Films from the Festival have gone on to have long and successful lives including last year’s Oscar winner The Artist, and filmmakers careers have been launched on the Croisette.

    The opportunities to have your film seen on a world stage is invaluable. For the 2012 edition, like the 2010 edition, there are NO FEMALE DIRECTED FILMS in competition, and in the 64 prior years of the Festival only one woman — Jane Campion — has been awarded the Palme D’Or.

    Festival director Thierry Fremaux responded to the recent manifesto from La Barbe a French feminist action group which decried the lack of women by saying:

    “I select work on the basis of it actual qualities. We would never agree to select a film that doesn’t deserve it on the basis it was made by a woman. That would lead to a quota policy that would undermine the cause…There is no doubt that greater space needs to be given to women within cinema. But it’s not at Cannes and in the month of May that this question needs to be raised, but rather all year and everywhere. Women’s rights need be defended beyond Cannes, which is a consequence and illustration of what is going on. It makes sense to highlight the problem during Cannes, but accusing the festival doesn’t serve anybody.”

    Mr. Fremaux is right to suggest that women’s rights need to be addressed on a year round basis. This issue must be addressed for the future health and livelihood of the film industry, and people need to recognize that a Festival of this level that does not include women’s voices and women’s perspectives in the competition is not a festival that reflects the current world view.

    We call for transparency in how films are selected and a commitment to diversity that includes female filmmakers in the future.

    Additionally, we the undersigned call for an industry wide discussion about this problem and we call on the leaders of all the major film festivals and film entities throughout the world to step up and agree to be a part of a dialogue on how we can to quote Mr. Fremaux, “create a greater space for women within cinema.”


    BRAVA, MELISSA! Add me in as Jan Lisa Huttner WITASWAN 🙂

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