There was a feminist theme going on at the beginning of the Cannes jury press conference, Wednesday, but the assembled panel of actors and directors soon shifted into safer, less political territory.
Jury president, Jane Campion was introduced as the only woman to have won the Palme d’Or. When asked a clearly leading question about whether there is sexism in the film industry she agreed readily and quoted a statistic handily furnished by festival selector Thierry Fremaux.
“He told us that only 7% of 1,800 films submitted to the Cannes festival were directed by women,” she said. “It does feel very undemocratic. We don’t get our share of representation. It always seems to be a surprise for the world when a woman does come out [as a success].”
But the softly spoken Campion had already taken the edge off the press conference when asked if any of the jury members had yet had any regrets about accepting. Campion’s response was a glaringly girly thought. “My problem is going to be what to wear.”
Other jurors were anyway in playful mood, especially when asked about their judging criteria. “We have guidelines, but it is a living thing. It is going to be creative and fun,” said actor Willem Dafoe. Gael Garcia Bernal got in on the act too. “This might be very serious, but it is a game, a very serious game,” he said. “I like that.”
Soundbites of the day, however, came from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and Chinese director Jia Zhangke. “We all have our private opinions, politically, socially and sexually. We just have to go with our opinions,” said Refn. “This is not Eurovision… Thank God,” said Winding Refn.
“Seeing so many films in Cannes is like being in love several times per day,” purred Jia sweetly.