Juries and Directors: How Much Gender Equality is There at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival?

In the midst of the controversies surrounding the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, we analyze the gender equality in this edition of the event.

The Woman Post | July Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Jurados y directoras: ¿Qué tanta paridad de género hay en el Festival de Cannes 2023?

The fight for gender equality and equity in the film industry has gained ground since the #MeToo revolution. This allowed thousands of women who belong to this industry to raise their voices, denounce and demand safe and dignified spaces. However, despite the results we are already seeing, it seems that the road ahead is long. This can be seen at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, which has been involved in controversies related to abuse and gender disparity.

Johnny Depp: the hero of the 2023 Cannes Film Festival

Perhaps one of the controversies related to gender equality that has caused the most stir is that of Johnny Depp. The American actor received a standing ovation for 7 minutes after the premiere of “Jeanne du Barry” ended . The film, which opened the Festival, is his first leading role after a three-year hiatus, which came to an end after winning the lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, also an actress. Recall that Depp sued Heard for defamation, damages and damages after she had published an opinion column in The Washington Post in 2018, in which she claimed that she had been a victim of domestic abuse. Although he did not mention Depp in the publication, according to the actor and his legal team, this affected his career to the point that he was taken out of the “Fantastic Beasts” saga and was rejected by major Hollywood studios.

Also read: Cannes Film Festival 2023: Reports of abuse and gender disparity in the film industry

Although Depp won the trial, the case also allowed physical and psychological abuse on the part of both to come to light . However, Depp was always defended by his fans and, despite the fact that the evidence of his mistreatment was evident, the general public did not punish him. On the contrary, Heard was attacked by the media in such a way that she had to hide from the public eye after the end of the trial.

It seems that the few questions that there were towards Depp’s credibility were not strong enough so that he was not treated as a hero at the Cannes Film Festival. The city banned protesters throughout the event, which runs from May 16 to 27. Of course, this has led to questions not only of Depp, but of the festival itself for putting a man against whom there is evidence of domestic abuse on a pedestal.

How is the 2023 Cannes Film Festival in terms of gender equality?

As we mentioned before, gender equality and equality in the film industry has gained ground in recent years, especially since 2018, the year in which #MeToo was born. As a result, this year we can find that women represent 33% of the directors competing for the Palme d’Or, the Festival’s highest award. This percentage of female directors is the highest in the history of the Cannes Film Festival. Suffice it to mention that until 2012 there were no female filmmakers present. However, the fact that it is the highest does not entirely mean that there is parity. It is only a third.

This is not only a symptom of what is happening at Cannes 2023, but also in the industry in general: how easy is it for a woman to become a recognized director? For Heather Rabatts, director of the UK’s Times Up Association, this figure should not please us. “Last time I checked, women make up at least 50% of the population, so we need to be focused,” she said. He also added that parity must take racialized women into account. You still don’t see enough black women.

On the other hand, the group of juries in the two main categories (feature films and a certain regarde), which is chaired by the filmmaker Ruben Östlund, is made up of 7 men and 7 women : Maryam Touzani, Moroccan director and screenwriter; Rungano Nyoni, Zambian director and screenwriter; Brie Larson, American director and actress; Julian Ducournau, French director and screenwriter; Alice Wincour, French director and screenwriter; Paula Beer, German actress; and Émilie Deguenne, Belgian actress. So it is that in this area, in that of who is considered an authority to grant the prizes, we can find not only parity, but also diversity in the origin of the chosen ones.

Although these achievements are important, they are permeated by the scandals of sexual abuse and by the denunciations made by actresses like Adele Haenel . This shows that the triumphs of gender equality are advancing, but that there is still a long way to go and, above all, a very big change in mentality in an industry that is so plagued by gender disparity.

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