By Malti Sahai/Cannes
This year’s Cannes Film Festival has been dubbed as the “Year of the Women” for its focus on female issues and filmmakers, but as reported by Variety many of the women in question seem keen to fight back against the label.
Both the film industry and the festival have a reputation for male domition, so there was applause when this year’s official selection opened things up a bit.
A female director, Emmanuelle Bercot, opened the festival for only the second time in its history and Agnes Varda was the first female recipient of the honorary lifetime achievement award.
The competition included two women directors where often there are none, and the most critically lauded entry so far — “Carol” starring a lavishly praised Cate Blanchett — focuses on repressed lesbian love.
Even the action films — “Mad Max: Fury Road” and drug war thriller “Sicario” — have female leads in the form of Charlize Theron and Emily blunt.
“They say it’s the ‘year of the women' ", said Blanchett at a press conference. “You hope it’s not just a year — not just some fashioble moment.”
Bercot outright rejected the idea that the choice of her film as festival opener was some sort of victory for female empowerment. "It’s the selection of the film that’s an honour,” she said, adding, “I don’t feel I’ve been a given a gift because such a prestigious slot went to a woman.”
To make matters worse, the festival’s supposed embracing of females was undermined by claims on Tuesday that women were being turned away from the red carpet for not wearing high heels.
Oscar-winner talie Portman, while promoting her directorial debut “A Tale of Love and Darkness” this week, said women-led productions were still being written off as “vanity projects”.
A talk about gender on the sidelines of the festival opened with the statistic that only 4.6 per cent of US studio films were directed by women last year, and not one Oscar best picture nominee featured a female protagonist.
Speaking at the talk, Salma Hayek argued real change would come not from token gestures at festivals but from a realization that women can bring in the bucks.
“The only thing we can do is show them we are an economic force,” said the Mexican actress and producer. "Nothing else will move them. The minute they see money, things will be instantaneously different.”
As reported that shift is already happening. In the industry marketplace that runs alongside the festival, sales have been increasingly focused on women viewers this year. Everyone now is trying to get women on board to try to appeal to a female audience.
Blanchett said she was exasperated that this discussion was still happening in 2015.
However Audiences are about to get a first peek at Gaspar Noe’s hyper-sexual 3-D release 'Love', on Wednesday night, said to be a graphic ode to the three-way. The film is centered on the erotic relationship between a boy and two girls.
Alchemy who have bought the rights to the film will have to walk a delicate line of appeasing its French auteur - whose previous film 'Irreversible' featured an extended rape scene with actress Monica Belluci — and assuaging potential activists for women’s causes.