Press in Cannes We need to talk about women

(Kan) Vincent Lindon came out of his suite at the Majestic Hotel and motioned for me to wait a moment before boarding the elevator. In the crack of the door, I saw his press secretary.

Posted at 07:04.

Chairman of the jury of 75AND The Cannes Film Festival, which opens on Tuesday, wanted to clarify its thoughts on a particularly sensitive topic: the historically low representation of female directors in the Cannes competition.

“Remember I was inside Titanium by Julia Ducournau, who received the Palme d’Or last year, and that I’ll be in Claire Denis’ next film. “Two female directors”, he explained, imitating in my attention the gesture of someone who keeps notes.

I could hardly have forgotten. I had just asked her opinion on the matter… talking about these two directors. “I would be ashamed to say that there is a lack of men at the top,” he told me, recalling recent awards won by female directors (Julia Ducournau in Cannes, Audrey Diwan in Venice, Carla Simon in Berlin, Jane Campion. Oscar, etc.).


PHOTO PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW, REUTERS

Vincent Lindon, president of the jury

“He is not a coward at all, but I am the chairman of the jury. I am not a coach “, he added, specifying that the French representation in the competition in Cannes was 75% female (three in four filmmakers). “Long live France! I said spontaneously. “And long live the women! he replied.

The French exception – the one that confirms the rule – seems to have become the argument of choice in Cannes to answer the question of low female representation. An hour later, at a press conference, when asked (this time not by me) he was also referred to by the Festival’s general delegate, Thierry Frémaux.

“I do not think there are so few women,” he replied, slightly defensive. There are 25% women in the competition and 25% women have applied. »

What he did not elaborate on was that the increase in competition a few weeks ago of the films of the two female directors, after criticism in the media, influenced the percentage of women to increase from 16% to 22%. Better late than never … We can not help but think, however, that the General Delegate would have avoided a new controversy on the subject, if he had not immediately announced only 3 female directors out of 19 filmmakers in the competition, the month past. (there are now 4 of 24).


PHOTO SARAH MEYSSONNIER, REUTERS

Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival

“Should we decide to favor women? he asked the reporters present in the hall of the Palais des Festivals, this time on the offensive. What is your answer: 50% male and 50% female? What is dogma? We have no rule. There is no quote. »

The delegated general stressed, with good reason, that this low representation of women was also a generational issue. Today there are more directors than 50 years ago, and for this reason few women of the David Cronenberg generation (79) in the festival district. The fact remains that among some of the biggest competitors in Cannes, Berlin and Toronto, the selection is in the “equality zone”. Thus, 7 of the 18 films in the competition at the most recent Berlinale were directed by women.

“All the Cannes awards last year were won by female directors. I have not heard or read it anywhere. It would be good to welcome this development, “complained Thierry Frémaux.

Perhaps journalists were too busy noting that Julia Ducournau was just the second woman to win the Palme d’Or in her 74-year history?

“We are the consequence, we are not the cause,” says Frémaux. Shouldn’t we choose a movie because it was directed by a man? We can not have a normal debate! It seems to me quite normal, on the contrary, that in this debate we do not all agree.

Thankfully things are changing, underlines Thierry Frémaux, citing as an example his selection committee, where women are now in the majority, juries, which have become equal under his leadership, and a room at the Palais des Festivals, which. the Agnès Varda room was renamed last week.

However, the very current issue of equality seems to exacerbate it. “I find it unfortunate that the debate is the same as it was 10 years ago. We talk about women in May in Cannes, every year. I would love to talk about this throughout the year. We completely agree on that.

A joint jury

The jury chaired by Vincent Lindon will be equal (four women, five men). And it is with apparent enthusiasm and great emotion that the French actor will enjoy one of the “biggest peaks” of his life, he says. “I am just happy and very proud. I will not pretend to be modest. It’s a great gift. It is a sanctification. What’s best after? It’s the best job in the world! I will try to enjoy the most beautiful cultural and intellectual holidays of my life. »


PHOTO CHRISTOPHE SIMON, AGENCY FRANCE-PRESSE

Jury chaired by Vincent Lindon

I remember the party that closed the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. I was informally discussing the winners with the outgoing President of the Festival, Pierre Lescure, and Vincent Lindon arrived, still very touched that he had received a Palme for acting for his role in Market law by Stéphane Brizé. This was his first award of such a degree.

Do we take into account the importance of the role of the president of the Cannes competition jury when we are already on the side of the winners? I asked him. “I can not wait to be in this room during the discussions, to find out how it is going. I think I will have a schizophrenic experience. »

The actor, who succeeds director Spike Lee as jury president, says he wants to discover films through the eyes of a child, allowing himself to be touched first in the heart and then in the head, without prejudice or a priori. And thinking that anything can happen. If his daughter or brother had predicted, before the Cannes Film Festival last year, this Titanium would take the Golden Palm, would be concerned about their mental health, he laughs.

“Giving the Golden Palm is a great responsibility. The director who gets it will surely work for the rest of his life. It’s heavy with meaning. I take this job very seriously. I love cinema. ” This is good.

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