A year after 82 women protested en masse on the red carpet, the Cannes Film Festival on Monday defended its record on female filmmakers and for the first time divulged data on its selection process.
Addressing reporters on the eve of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Fremaux spoke at length, both touting the festival's strides in gender parity and bristling at what he described as Cannes' being held to an impossible standard.
Issues of gender equality have resonated particularly in Cannes, where only one female filmmaker (Jane Campion, in 1993 for “The Piano”) has ever won the festival's top award, the Palme d'Or, and where women directors have never numbered more than four in the main slate of nearly 20 films. Not wearing high heels has even, as recently as four years ago, been a reason for denying entry to a premiere.
Following pressure by 50/50X2020, the French sister group to Time's Up, Fremaux last May signed a pledge promising to make the festival's selection process more transparent and to push their executive boards toward gender parity.
This year, Cannes's selection committee was 50% female for the first time.
Cannes on Monday offered a dose of transparency on its selection process, including who sat on the selection committee. That, too, had been a suggestion of 50/50X2020.
The festival said that it received 1,845 feature film submissions from 39 countries, 26% were directed by women. Its official selection of 69 films, both features and shorts, included 19 films directed by women, or 27.5%.
Book to stay in UK
The British government used its powers to preserve the nation's cultural treasures on Monday to halt the export of a tattered paperback copy of “Lady Chatterley's Lover.”
The copy of the once-scandalous book was used by the judge in the U.K. obscenity trial of Penguin Books. Penguin was prosecuted in 1960 for publishing D.H. Lawrence's novel about an affair between a wealthy woman and her husband's gamekeeper, a landmark in the frank literary depiction of sexuality.
The copy was sold to an anonymous overseas bidder at a Sotheby's auction in October for $73,000.
The government's decision halts the export for several months to see whether a buyer can be found to keep it in Britain.
Among celebrity birthdays today: Guitarist Gene Cornish is 75. Movie director-producer George Lucas is 75. Actress Meg Foster is 71. Director Robert Zemeckis is 68. Musician David Byrne is 67. Actor Tim Roth is 58. Bassist Mike Inez is 53. Singer Raphael Saadiq is 53. Actress Cate Blanchett is 50. Singer Danny Wood is 50. Director Sofia Coppola is 48. Actor Gabriel Mann is 47. Singer Natalie Appleton is 46. Singer Shanice is 46. Actress Carla Jimenez is 45. Guitarist Henry Garza is 41. Singer Ketch Secor is 41. Singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach is 40. Bassist Mike Retondo is 38. Actress Amber Tamblyn is 36. Actress Miranda Cosgrove is 26.