Lack Of Women At Cannes Is Shameful, But Affirmative Action Is Not The Answer
2:29 pm, May 27th | by Lilly ODonnell
It’s a shame that not one of the 22 films nominated at this year’s Cannes Film Festival were directed by women. But that doesn’t mean that next year the directors of the festival should go out of their way to pick films just because they were, as Festival president Gilles Jacob told The Guardian they’re planning to do.
If a woman were to win after her film was selected as part of some gender quota, rather than on merit, it would only inspire bitterness — and justified bitterness, at that. Seeking out female directors for the festival would be akin to saying that women can’t make films good enough for Cannes, and need to be let in through the back door in order to participate.
The lack of female representation on this year’s list should serve as a wake up call that something needs to be done to break up this particular boys’ club, but the top down, affirmative action-style approach is not the answer.
It would be one thing if the festival were actively excluding women, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“‘The selector has said it is not his intention to take a film made by a woman because it is made by a woman but because it has the necessary quality,’” The Guardian quoted Jacob as saying. ”‘Cinema is dominated by men, and Cannes is just a reflection of cinema.’”
The issue isn’t that Cannes is overlooking films made by women, but that there simply aren’t enough out there. Or at least not enough good ones. Rather than hurling insults at the festival’s directors, people who are outraged should look at the big picture, and try to solve the problem, not just one of its symptoms. They should give money to an organization like The Alliance of Women Directors, or otherwise support women in making films of Cannes quality.