Cannes announces changes to boost female representation

CANNES, France — On the eve of the 71st Cannes Film Festival, the festival’s director held an unscheduled press conference Monday to address the many issues roiling this year’s gathering, from Cannes’ feud with Netflix to the #MeToo movement to the banning of selfies on the red carpet.

Thierry Fremaux, in lengthy, impassioned comments, promised that the festival — long known as a playground for disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein — would adapt to the world’s shifting cultural landscape.

“We want to keep pace with a world that’s changing,” said Fremaux.

While Fremaux reiterated his stance that festival selections should be considered only by their artistic quality and not their filmmaker’s gender, he said the festival would improve the male-to-female ratios of its selection committees, name more women as jury president and, in the future, select more films directed by women. Its jury president this year is Cate Blanchett.

Three of the 21 films competing for the top Palme d’Or prize this year at Cannes were directed by women. Only one female filmmaker, Jane Campion, has ever won the Palme.

“The cinema has always been in the hands of men,” said Fremaux. “There will be more and more (female filmmakers) in the future.”

Fremaux also announced that Saturday at Cannes, about 100 women will walk the red carpet in a symbolic gesture to “affirm their presence.”

Cannes has been closely watched for how it would react to the fallout following the downfall of Weinstein, previously an omnipresent figure at Cannes. This year it launched a hotline for sexual harassment victims and child care for mothers.

“It isn’t just the Cannes Film Festival that’s going to change. The whole world has changed,” said Fremaux.

The director left the door open for improved relations with Netflix. French law requires a three-year window following a film’s theatrical release before it can land on a streaming platform — a prohibition that led to Cannes this year refusing to put Netflix entries into its prestigious competition lineup.

Netflix in turn withdrew its films altogether — including Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” and the Orson Welles film “The Other Side of the Wind” — in a public spat that Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive, recently expressed regret over.

“Days ago in Lille a declaration was made to say ‘We should have been more respectful, diplomatic.’ That’s what I also believe,” said Fremaux.

He added that the Netflix drama, begun in 2017 when the streaming giant had two films in competition at Cannes, could have a third act.

“Last year was episode one. This year is episode two. And next year will be episode three,” he said.

Fremaux also addressed the situations around two controversial directors — Roman Polanski and Lars von Trier.

Polanski, a Cannes regular who premiered a film here last year, was last week kicked out of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Asked if Cannes might do the same, Fremaux hedged.

“These are complicated matters,” he said. “We look at the past with the glasses of today.”

Von Trier was also reinstituted this year after being declared “persona non grata” in 2011 for joking about being a Nazi and having sympathy for Hitler.

“He is not anti-Semitic. He is not anti-Jewish. He is not a Nazi. He was punished, and (festival president) Pierre Lescure along with the board decided that he punishment had lasted long enough,” Fremaux said.

And of course, he also spoke about outlawing selfies from the red carpet.

“It’s horrible to lend this such importance. It’s ridiculous,” Fremaux said. “You don’t come to Cannes to see yourself. You come to Cannes to see films.”

Just Posted

Whispering Pines raises $40,000 for STARS

The golf and country resort held its fifth annual STARS Charity Golf Tournament this past weekend

Man dies in vehicle rollover west of Red Deer

Rocky Mountain House RCMP investigate

UPDATED: Lee seeks UCP nomination in Red Deer

Eyes Red Deer-North constituency

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Red Deer city council considers new business licence bylaw

All businesses operating in the City of Red Deer will require a… Continue reading

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Case of truck driver charged in Humboldt Broncos crash adjourned until October

MELFORT, Sask. — The case of a Calgary truck driver charged in… Continue reading

Animal crackers break out of their cages

After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of… Continue reading

Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at resort

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — A woman who often walked her dog… Continue reading

Patients redirected as water leak shuts down Edmonton hospital’s emergency room

EDMONTON — Ambulances are being redirected to other hospitals after a water… Continue reading

Parks Canada moves second bison bull that wandered out of Banff National Park

BANFF — Parks Canada says a second bison bull that wandered out… Continue reading

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for… Continue reading

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

TORONTO — A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal… Continue reading

Scheer going to India to ‘repair’ relationship after ‘disastrous’ Trudeau trip

OTTAWA — Six months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy prowess… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month