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Cannes 2012 under fire for male-only Palme d’Or shortlist

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Alex Morgan
WVoN co-editor

The Cannes film festival opened earlier this week amidst a row over sexism, with no female directors on the shortlist for the prestigious Palme d’Or prize.

The result is that 22 male directors will compete for the prize in the French Riviera resort this week.

The controversy erupted after a group of well-known female French directors, including Virginie Despentes, director of “Baise Moi”, wrote an open letter to French newspaper Le Monde, to voice their dismay.

The letter read that: “Men love their women to have depth, but only when it comes to their cleavages” and claimed that women were only allowed to walk the Cannes red carpet “on the arm of a prince charming”.

It criticised the Palme d’Or for having ignored women directors throughout its 65 year history, with only Jane Campion ever having won the prize for her 1993 film, The Piano.

The letter also pointed to the fact that an image of the American actress Marilyn Monroe – who died 50 years ago – was being used on the official festival poster this year, and that talented women were mainly acting as comperes.   

However, Thierry Fremaux who heads the committee in charge of selection of films for the Cannes Festival, rejected the criticisms, saying that judges “would never select a film that doesn’t deserve it just because it is directed by a woman”.

He added that the lack of women directors on the shortlist was reflective of an industry wide lack of female directors.

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