Is the Cannes Film Festival Shutting Women Directors out?

“Mais, Oui!”

That’s what French Feminist group La Barbe (the beard) are accusing the Cannes Film Festival of. In a  high-profile opinion piece published in the Le Monde this past Saturday, the article,  signed by Baise Moi director Virginie Despentes, filmmaker Coline Serreau and actress Fanny Cottonçon, among others, readily accuses the event of sexism.

“The directors of the 22 films in competition this year are all, by happy coincidence, men. For the 63rd time in its existence, the festival will crown one of its own, defending without fail the virile values which are the nobility of the seventh art….

…why should they (women in film) complain? Is it not enough for them to aspire to be mistress of ceremonies someday during the Festival’s opening night? Bérénice Béjo in 2012, Mélanie Laurent in 2011, Kristin Scott-Thomas in 2010, women are perfect hostesses, who are perfectly happy with a simple, ” you have beautiful eyes, you know ,” or other well-turned compliment. Disturbing icons as well whom you manage to leave where they belong: on display. As you can see from festival posters: this year Marilyn Monroe is the one we celebrate, in 2011 Juliette Binoche, in 2009 Monica Vitti, and in 1989 the Republican Marianne. (A feminine symbol representing the French Nation.)  In 1976 the naked buttocks of a woman were honored. What could our muses complain about? They are celebrated for their essential qualities: beauty, grace, lightness…Let us preserve them from the torments of bossing around a film crew, let us spare them the painful confrontation with the technical puzzles of a film set. Why allow them to bore themselves in the Festival Steering Committee where important decisions are made, where only male presidents have ruled since its creation? Let us go on giving only men the heavy load of repulsive duties. Let us be even better than Hollywood where only 77% men still sit on the Oscars’ Academy.

They have also launched an online petition which by Monday morning had more than 1,000 signatures on it, mostly from women involved in the French film world.

What do you think? Is sexism at play, or are films directed by women just not good enough for Cannes? We want to hear your thoughts – have your say below in the comments.

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