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Cannes looks to burst bubble

The world’s A-est of A list festivals has been in strife in recent years for naming so few films by women directors in its competition line-ups, with festival director Thierry Fremaux responding bluntly, if possibly truthfully, that he and his team made their decisions on merit.

2014 Camera d’Or winner Party Girl, written and directed by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis

2014 Camera d’Or winner Party Girl, written and directed by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis

The push for greater diversity across all manner of screen industry activity has been acquiring momentum over the last couple of years. Last week, in an interview yet to be published, Hot Docs President Chris McDonald noted, “There were only two female directors in competition at Cannes last year, and just one the year before. This is an embarrassment.”

“Can you imagine us telling a director, ‘Look, you made a beautiful film but we’re going to take a film directed by a woman instead’?” Freamux said in an interview with Variety. “These are stupid considerations.”

Yesterday, the festival announced a partnership with Kering, a company which controls several luxury brands, to present a new programme: Women in Motion. The programme will include talks on the place of women in the film industry and the way they are represented in movies.

Without yet naming names, the festival promised “leading female members of the film world” would participate. Women in Motion will also present Lifetime Achievement and Newcomer awards at Cannes.

The move is a positive one but, in the wake of campaigns such as #AskHerMore, having such a programme sponsored by luxury brands risks criticism. Whether introducing conference-style events and honorary awards will appease those arguing that the festival should make more diverse competition selections is debatable.

The Cannes Film Festival will run 13 – 24 May.

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