History has been made at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, as Sofia Coppola won Best Director for her latest film The Beguiled. The film, which has critics buzzing, is a female-driven remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film. The feminist adaptation tells the story of how an all-girls boarding school, lead by Nicole Kidman as headmistress, is shaken up by the arrival of an injured Union soldier. The film also stars Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst.
You are still probably wondering what makes this win so historic? Well, in the 70 years of the prestigious film festival, Sofia Coppola is only the second female to walk away with the Best Director prize. Coppola was unable to accept her prize on the night, but in a pre-written speech, she thanked her parents, Francis Ford and Eleanor Coppola. She also acknowledged and thanked New Zealand director Jane Campion for "being a role model and supporting women filmmakers." Campion is still the only female filmmaker to ever win the Palme d'Or for her 1993 film, The Piano.
Sofia Coppola's win is a major step forward for #Cannes, as the first female to win best director was Yuliya Solntseva for her film, Chronicle of Flaming Years. This win was 56 years ago! The film industry is still very much a "man's world" and IndieWire puts it perfectly by saying that "Cannes is still falling behind when it comes to truly diversifying its competition slate." However, there was progress this year as many of the female celebrities that showed up to the festival were very vocal about the need for more female filmmakers.
Only Three Films Were Directed By Women
Out of 19, #SofiaCoppola was one of three female filmmakers whose films were in the competition lineup at this year's festival. Though still relatively low, it is definitely a step up compared to past years, where 2005, 2010 and 2012 saw zero female filmmakers in competition. Coppola was joined by Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase — who won the Camera d’Or in 1997 — and Scottish filmmaker, Lynne Ramsay — who won the Cannes Prix de Jury in 1996.
More Female Jurors
This year's competition jury included Jessica Chastain, Fan Bingbing, Maren Ade and Agnès Jaoui. This meant that out of the nine-member jury, four were women. Actress Jessica Chastain even brought up how surprised she was at the representation of females in some of the in-competition films. Chastain goes on to say:
"There are some exceptions, but I was surprised about the representation of female characters on screen. I do hope that when we involve more female storytellers, that more of the women I know in my day-to-day life who have their agencies; that they don’t react to men around them, that they have their own points of views.”
Famous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing also had this to say about Sofia Coppola's important win:
“She did amazing work. We just want to advocate focusing on female filmmakers in the future…I have to say she won this prize not because she’s a female filmmaker, but because of the film itself.”
Nicole Kidman Brings The Statistics
The Beguiled star Nicole Kidman, who was the recipient of the 70th Anniversary Prize spoke out about the lack of female filmmakers during a panel promoting The Beguiled. Kidman went on to say that:
“Still only about four percent of women directed the major motion pictures of 2016,” We as women have to support female directors, that’s a given now. Everyone is saying it’s so different now — but it isn’t. Listen to the statistics.”
Sofia Coppola's win has definitely opened many doors for future female filmmakers.
How do you feel about the shortage of female filmmakers? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!