The scarcity of female directors in the film world is “undemocratic” according to director Jane Campion.
New Zealand-born Campion, the only woman to have won Cannes’ coveted Palme d’Or prize for her work directing The Piano in 1993, said: “I think you’d have to say there’s some inherent sexism in the industry. It’s not that I resent the male film making, but there is something that women are doing that we don’t get to know enough about.”
Campion argued that while women are routinely featured on the festival’s posters and often take pride of place as lead characters, what is lacking in cinema is “the stories that women tell.”
Her remarks came on the first day of the festival, now in its 67th year, which opened with the premiere of Olivier Dahan’s controversial film Grace of Monaco with Nicole Kidman starring as Grace Kelly. The film has received near universally negative reviews.
Campion is president of the main jury prize at a festival where women are in the majority on most juries.
However the festival’s organisers have been criticised in the past for failing to showcase women’s achievements in the films screened at the event.
While US director Sofia Coppola and French actress Carole Bouquet join Campion on the judging panel, only two films by female directors are competing for the Palme d’Or – the Japanese film Futatsume No Mado (Still the Water) by Naomi Kawase and Alice Rohrwacher’s film Le Meraviglie (The Wonders).
In 2012 leading female directors and actresses accused the film industry of overlooking female talent, claiming that “at Cannes, women show their breasts, men show their films” in a letter to leading French newspaper Le Monde.