Where Are All the Women Directors in This Year's Cannes Competition?


Remember 2009? That commercial and critical breakthrough year for women directors including Lone Scherfig, Anne Fletcher, Nora Ephron, Jane Campion and Nancy Meyers, culminating in Kathryn Bigelow's historic Academy Award victory? Even the 2009 Cannes Film Festival had a record-tying three women filmmakers -- Campion, Isabel Coixet and Andrea Arnold -- in its prestigious competition lineup. Good times. They feel like they're forever ago, though, particularly considering this year's Cannes competition, where there's not a woman to be found. A browse through recent history suggests maybe we shouldn't be surprised.

Disappointed? Sure. Surprised, though? Look at it this way: Since 2000, the Cannes Film Festival has screened 212 films in competition. Of those:

· Seventeen titles were directed by a total of 14 women.

· Two titles -- Shrek and Persepolis -- were co-directed by women.

· The last year to feature no women directors in competition was 2005 (and before that: 1999)

For what it's worth, Cannes does love its actresses -- particularly on its juries, where they generally make up half of the eight-person crew, even running the show on occasion (such as in -- you guessed it -- 2009, when Isabelle Huppert served as jury president). On the bright-ish side for this year, at least three women will present films out of competition, including British director Sophie Fiennes (Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow), Sabina Guzzanti (Draquila - L'Italia Che Trema) and Ágnes Kocsis (Pal Adreinn), with likely more to follow.

Still, you have to wonder what Cannes 2010 poster girl Juliette Binoche would have done had she known that the festival for which she'd swing that light-painting brush leaned 92 percent male over the last decade -- plus, famously, exactly one female Palme d'Or winner (Jane Campion in 1993) in nearly 60 years. Yikes. There's always 2011.