Despite the many gains in recent years in the film industry – women directors are still absent at the Cannes Film Festival. So much so that Jane Campion this year brought an allegorical film about how the film industry treats women.
The New Zealander is the only woman filmmaker to have won Cannes’ top prize, for “The Piano” in 1993. This year at Cannes, she showed a fantasy short film about a ladybug — a woman dressed up in an insect costume — who gets stomped on in a movie theater. She said it was a metaphor for women in the film world. “I just think this is the way the world is, that men control the money, and they decide who they’re going to give it to,” Campion said, explaining why so few women get movies made.
Of the twenty-two films contending for the Palm D’or, only three are by women – the animated version of “Persepolis” co-directed by author of the graphic novel Marjane Satrapi (coming of age after the Iranian revolution); “Mogari No Mori” (“The Mourning Forest”) by Japanese director Naomi Kawase (road trip story) and “Une Vieille Maitresse” (An Old Mistress) by French director Catherine Breillat (period piece about the ups and downs of arranging a marriage between a libertine and a virtuous young aristocrat).
But more concerningly, recent research suggests that US women directors account for only 7% of the 250 highest grossing films in 2005 (a polite way of saying about 18 films). Only three women have ever been nominated for the Academy Award for best director – Jane Campion (1993, “The Piano”), Sophia Coppola (2003, “Lost in Translation”) and Lina Wertmuller (1976, “Seven Beauties”). Campion is the only woman to have won the award.