The annual Cannes Film Festival recently concluded, and actress Jessica Chastain has given the movie industry lots to reflect on. As a jury member of the event's final conference, Chastain candidly expressed her disappointment of female portrayals in the festival's film roster:
"I do believe that if you have female storytelling you also have more authentic female characters. This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies. And the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that I saw represented. It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest."
While she said there were some exceptions, overall, the portrayals of women surprised her. Chastain closed her remarks with a resolution for the movie world: include more female storytellers.
"I do hope that when we include more female storytellers, we will have more of the women that I recognize in my day-to-day life. Ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them. They have their own point of view.”
The notable actress is known as an advocate for female representation and gender equality in film, and only accepts roles where her character is depicted with depth and strength. She even launched a production company, Freckle Films, that promotes women both in front of and behind the camera. Recently, when asked if she would be interested in playing Poison Ivy in #GothamCitySirens, a dream-cast for many fans, she responded:
"I'm interested in all things where the characters are strong and dynamic, and not stereotypes or objects. I like female characters that are subjects, not objects. And so, if Poison Ivy happens to be that, sure. Throw my hat in the ring."
It's important for actresses to be vocal on issues with how women are depicted in media; change can only be made when people actively speak out. Effective female representation is desperately needed in cinema both on and off camera. Out of Cannes' 70-year history, Sofia Coppola is only the second woman to win Best Director. This year's festival contained only three films directed by women, which adds to Chastain's point of the lack of equality at Cannes.
Since many are concerned about female portrayals in cinema, Chastain's critique is exactly what we needed to hear. Here's hoping that Cannes, and the film industry at large, will take the actress's words to heart.
What do you think of Jessica Chastain's inspiring words at this year's Cannes festival? Let us know in the comments below!