Jessica Chastain delivered an important message for the movie industry at the Cannes Film Festival. The actress has been a long advocate for gender equality in Hollywood, and her strong words went viral on Monday.
Highlighting the ‘disturbing’ representation of women
Actress Jessica Chastain has emerged as a champion for women in Hollywood. Speaking frequently about the entertainment industry’s wage gap, and her individual efforts to achieve pay parity with her male co-stars.
Once again the actress took a stand and cemented her reputation as an advocate for gender equality.This time she spoke candidly during a press conference at the 70th Cannes Film Festival where she served as jury and viewed over 20 films in 10 days.
The actress explained that as a woman the slate of movies screened left a lot to be desired. She also said she got to see how the world views women and expressed “It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest.”However, she noted there were some “exceptions” to the trend, but she was still surprised with the representation of female characters on screen.
Chastain renewed the call for more female storytellers. Highlighting that more female directors in the industry could lead to female characters that reflect the women she sees in her daily 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.”
Celebrating female directors
Chastain’s remarks came after director Sofia Coppola became the first women in 56 years, to nab the price of ‘Best Director.’ The first was Russian director Yuliya Solnteva. Who won in 1961 for ‘Chronicle of Flaming Years’ a film about resistance to the Nazis in the Soviet Union.
Coppola was awarded for her remake of the 1972, Clint Eastwood film, ‘The Beguiled’. In her acceptance speech, Coppola thanked another female director, Jane Campion. Coppola assured she is “a role model and supporting women filmmakers.” Campion remains the only woman to have ever won the festival’s coveted Palme d’Or award.
Female-led movies were the hot topic on the Festival
The prestigious annual festival has been criticized for its treatment of female film-makers. In 70 years, only one woman, Jane Campion who Coppola referenced in her speech, has won the Palme d’Or.This year, of the 19 filmmakers up for Cannes’ Palme d’Or, only three were women. Including Coppola, Japan’s Naomi Kawas, and Scotland’s Lynne Ramsay.
Ramsay was the only other woman to win a top non-acting award. Earning Best Screenplay for her film, ‘You Were Never Really Here’; she shared the prize with Greek filmmakers Yorgos Lanthimos for his movie, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’.
The lack of female-led movies was one of the most discussed topics at the starry cinema fest this year. Not only Jessica Chastain took a stand, but also actress Isabelle Huppert. During a party celebrating Cannes’s 70th anniversary, the Oscar-nominated actress informed, “Seventy years, 76 Palme d’Ors, but only one has gone to a woman. No comment.”
The only female director to ever win the Palme d’Or, Jane Campion, also pointed out the clear gender imbalance last week, during an interview: “[It’s been] too long! Twenty-four years!” she said about her win. “And before that, there was no one. It’s insane.”
The importance of female representation
Director Maren Ade, who directed the Oscar-nominated movie ‘Toni Erdmann’, discussed the importance of both female directors and roles.
Ade highlighted the contribution of women in order to reflect different views, perspectives and stories. “We all want to the film industry to reflect modern society,” Ade said.“We’re missing a lot of stories, not just female characters,” she stressed.The director also pointed out some retrograde thinking and beliefs of people, who still consider directing a men’s job and expressed “that’s completely wrong.”
Chinese actress and fellow juror Fan Bingbing took a stand for female filmmakers in the future. She also congratulated and talked about Sofia Coppola winning the prize, “I have to say she won this prize not because she’s a female filmmaker, but because [of] the film itself.”
Chastain’s message on the festival is highly valuable, as they really point out to not only the lack of representation but also the need for a change. “We need to understand that we need more female critics to let women and men know that stories about women are just as interesting as stories about men.”
Many in Hollywood—including Aidy Bryant, Lena Dunham, Ava DuVernay, Mindy Kaling and Debra Message—tweeted a video clip from Sunday’s press conference and thanked Chastain.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 29, 2017