In one week, the media and the film world will descend on the South of France for the annual Cannes Film Festival. The worldwide press attention will be staggering. As we know, much of the attention falls on the films in the main competition, which are given the red-carpet treatment.
As in the past, there are not enough women filmmakers on the final list for the main competition. After years of pressure, the festival is beginning to understand the central role it plays in the conversation on the lack of opportunities for female filmmakers. This year sees some progress. The festival was approached by Kering and together they are launching the Women in Motion program, a series of conversations and a dinner to highlight women. Four women will sit on the competition jury, while Isabella Rosellini will head Un Certain Regard and Sabine Azema the Camera d'Or. And for the first time in 28 years, the festival will open with a film directed by a woman: Emmanuelle Bercot's "La Tete haute," starring Catherine Deneuve.
But still, there seems to be some kind of lock on the door shutting out women from the main competition. Is there a perception that there are not "good enough" women out there? Do people who program the festival not feel comfortable with a female perspective and vision? I can't answer that. All I know is that over the last decade, only 9% of the films in the main competition have been directed by women (and this year's opening film, directed by Ms. Bercot, is not in competition). Here's a reminder that only one woman, Jane Campion, has ever been awarded the Palme d'Or, one of the highest honors in film. It was back in 1993, and she shared that with a male director.
The festival clearly seems to feel more comfortable placing female-directed films in Un Certain Regard, the other competitive program, whose female participation stands at 17%.
Women make up 50% of the world and, in the US, at least, comprise 50% of filmgoers. We know that Cannes is not the only problem, but it does illuminate a worldwide issue that continues to affect female filmmakers, where the higher you go in prestige and money, the less you see them. This must change.
Today, in honor of the Cannes Film Festival, we are launching a new coalition, Support Women Filmmakers, to take advantage of the media focus on Cannes and to make people aware of the terrific work women filmmakers (including directors, producers, editors, actors, composers and others) are contributing to our worldwide cinematic conversation.
Getting involved is simple:
1. Sign your name to our coalition here.
2. Follow the campaign on Twitter @seehernow
3. RT and use the #SeeHerNow to help us amplify the message regarding women in the film industry.
4. Join our thunderclap campaign and be a part of the unleashing a mass group tweet in support of female filmmakers next Wednesday as the Cannes Film Festival starts.
Today, we launch the campaign with Women and Hollywood's now annual infographic on women directors in Cannes. Please share this all over the world using #SeeHerNow. Remind people that there are amazing female filmmakers all across the world, and they should #SeeHerNow.