When you’re betting on Cannes it’s always best to bet against the women. That logic held up this year as the Cannes 2017 lineup was announced and the Competion titles i.e. the films that compete in the main program that are the most watched and are eligible or the main awards, and only 3 of the 18 films were directed by women. Since the 70s that’s been pretty much par for the course for Cannes when the number of films directed by women have hovered between 0 and 4 in any given year. Still it’s a huge disappointment given the amount of acclaimed women directors who have movies being released in 2017.
The three women who had films that made it into the main competition, Sofia Coppola, Naomi Kawase and Lynne Ramsay, are worthy additions to any festival line up and were expected to show up at Cannes having all had films that have competed for the Palme d’Or before as well as all having served as jury members in the past.
But Agnès Varda who is a French legend who last showed up at Cannes in 2015 to accept an Honorary Palme d’Or for her body of work, showed up Out of Competition, an especially bizarre choice given her long history with the festival and the fact that, at 88, this might be the last film she makes.
It’s also disappointing not to see Cannes adding any new female talent in their main competitive slot while making room for them in their less prestigious categories. Cannes is a festival that likes to keep it in the family, so to speak, by inviting back the same directors again and again. And when they keep passing over female talent that means that the problem Cannes has with women directors is one that’s going to keep continuing for decades.
Here are the female directors and their films, announced for Cannes so far:
The Beguiled - Sofia Coppola Radiance - Naomi Kawase You Were Never Really Here - Lynne Ramsay
Out of Competition
Visages, Villages - Agnès Varda & JR
Un Certain Regard
Jeune Femme - Léonor Serraille Western - Valeska Grisebach After the War - Annarita Zambrano Beauty and the Dogs - Kaouther Ben Hania The Desert Bride - Cecilia Atan and Valeria Pivato
They - Anahita Ghazvinizadeh Sea Sorrow - Vanessa Redgrave
70th anniversary events
Top of the Lake: China Girl - Jane Campion & Ariel Kleiman Come Swim - Kristen Stewart
Short Films Grandpa Walrus - Lucrèce Andreae Across My Land - Fiona Godivier Push It - Julia Thelin