Lack of funding and opportunities major hurdle for women filmmakers
By Malti Sahai
The 68th Cannes Film Festival opened with the screening of French actress-director Emmanuelle Bercot’s film La Tete Haute (Standing Tall). This is only the second film directed by a woman to open Cannes since 1987. Often criticized for its male centric line up in the past, Cannes has also introduced a new ‘Women in-Motion’ program with corporate partner Kering. A series of daily conferences and events have been scheduled to take place this year. These sessions are aimed at highlighting women’s achievements and presence within the film industry. They will also address the ways women are represented in Hollywood, how female characters are portrayed on screen and how gender shapes rrative and storytelling among other things.
Through these initiatives Thierry Fremoux ( Cannes General Delegate) hopes to spot light women contribution both on screen and behind the camera. However despite the shift in focus only two women directors have been short listed in the competition section that competes for the Palm d’ or. This is the same number as last year. If we add up the Opening film (La Tete Hute) by Emmanuelle Bercot, Competition section films (Marguerite and Julien), by Valerie Donzelli, (Mon roi), by Maiwenn, Special Midnight Screenings (A Tale of Love and Darkness)by talie Portaman and Un Certain Regard films (Madon)by Shin Suwon, (Maryland) by An Winovour,(An) by omi Kawase and (hid) by Ida Pahandeh. Over all there are eight films by women directors as against nine tittles screened last year.
Thierry Fremoux has said in an interview to Variety, “If Emmanuelle Bercot’s film was chosen to open Cannes this year, it’s not because she’s a woman, it’s because she made a beautiful movie. I feel no more proud to have Emmanuelle Bercot as the opening film director than I do guilty when there are no women in competition. I don’t know whether the filmmakers are men or women, big or small, white black or red, young or old. We select the films, we don’t choose according to the gender (of their directors). This year, there are no Spanish film in competition. That’s how it is”.
The women filmmakers across the world would not have it any other way. The problem as often pointed out is not in the number of films selected but in the lack of funding and opportunities given to women filmmakers to make films. The brain storming in the ‘Women In Motion’ programme will it is hoped show the way.