Cannes Failed Women In 2017, Jury Member Jessica Chastain Says

Originally published by Dory Jackson on International Business Times

Gender inequality is a common occurrence within the film world in all facets. Unfortunately, when it comes to the inaccurate depiction of women in film, the 70th annual edition of the Cannes Film Festival this May was no exception to this. In fact, it was "disturbing," according to actress Jessica Chastain.

The "Martian" actress, who served on the jury at Cannes, took the opportunity to voice her opinion on the lackluster depiction of women this year during a Sunday press conference. Overall, what she came across was "quite disturbing."

"This is the first time I've watched 20 films in 10 days and I love movies," she said. "The one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women, from the female characters that I saw represented."

While Chastain believes that some films' representations of female characters get a pass, she was still "surprised by the representations" of women in a number of films.

"I do hope that when we include more female storytellers, we will have more of the women I recognize in my day-to-day life — ones that are proactive, have their own agency, don't just react to the men around them," she explained. "They have their own point of view.”

Shortly after the actress shared her thoughts on the controversial matter, her comments went viral. Chastain quickly generated praise from her fellow peers within the industry, including "Selma" filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

While Chastain's words were highly noted, she wasn't the only female to speak out on the depiction of women.

Maren Ade, director of "Toni Erdmann", also recognized the issue at hand. She believes that "we are missing a lot of stories they can tell, not just about female characters, but their views on men."

Chinese actress and festival juror Fan Bingbing also inserted, "we want to encourage female filmmakers present more female characters."

Although women received a huge loss in the depiction department at Cannes, they still managed to win in other areas.

This year's festival included an increase in female-led projects. Julianne Moore ("Wonderstruck"), Isabelle Huppert ("Happy End"), and Elle Fanning ("The Beguiled" and "How to Talk to Girls at Parties") were among the pack of actresses dominating the festival. As a bonus, a fair amount of female led projects secured distribution deals, including Juliette Binoche's "Let the Sunshine In.”

Sofia Coppola, who premiered her highly-anticipated film "The Beguiled" at Cannes, walked away with the best director award. Coppola is the second female director to accomplish this task in 71 years. Despite this major win for women filmmakers, Cannes still needs to increase their selection of female filmmakers for the 2018 edition. In doing so, they can take a page from Tribeca Film Festival since a third of the directors selected for this year’s event were female.

Hopefully, Chastain’s thought-provoking words will serve as a wake up call for Cannes as they enter their selection process next year.

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