The Cannes Film Festival is no stranger to controversies. Actress Simone Silva’s revealing photo shoot in 1954 and French director Louis Malle’s attempt to have the festival shut down in 1968 are two of the festival’s most scandalous moments. The 2012 festival, however, is dealing with a much more political controversy. In a year of many impressive films, none of the 22 films nominated for the competition have been directed by women.
The Boys’ Club
This is not the first time during the festival’s history that women have been sidelined. Male directors have largely dominated the film selections of the festival ever since the event’s inception in 1946. In fact, the only female to have won the coveted Palme d’Or award was Jane Campion for her work on “The Piano” in 1993.
Outrage has been sparked over the festival’s decision not to include any films directed by women in the competition. La Barbe, a prominent French feminist group, has gone so far as to publish a manifesto in Le Monde, one of France’s leading newspapers. The manifesto details the group’s dissatisfaction with the lack of female film directors in this year’s lineup and also calls attention to the festival’s alleged preference of male film directors throughout the years. The manifesto also states that women have been viewed mostly as sex objects in films and that female directors are not taken as seriously. In addition to the manifesto, a petition was also created as a means to show support against the festival’s actions. Over 700 female filmmakers, activists and organizers have signed the petition so far.
The Committee Responds
Amidst these allegations of sexism, festival director Thierry Fremaux has stated that nominees for the festival are considered with the same amount of equality regardless of gender. He also expressed that films are chosen based on their overall qualities and will not select films if they do not meet certain standards.
Regardless of the controversy, this year’s festival still promises to be an overall success. The film festival has always been one of the most prestigious events among the film community. The beautiful scenery of Cannes and the high-quality films being screened will likely triumph over any controversies.