Sophia Coppola may have practically made history with her Best Director win at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for The Beguiled; she was the second woman ever to win the award and the first since 1961, when Russian director Yuliya Solnteva landed it for Chronicle of Flaming Years. But don’t think this was a year for women to prevail at the festival — at least, not according to Jessica Chastain, one of this year’s festival’s judges.
“This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days,” Chastain said at a press conference earlier this week. “I love movies, and the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that I saw represented.”
She continued, “It was quite disturbing, to be honest. There are some exceptions, I will say. But for the most part, I was surprised with the representation of female characters on screen in these films.”
As for which films Chastain was calling out? Well, she didn’t specify. But other critics who were at Cannes are now weighing in on this, and Kyle Buchanan’s analysis for Vulture has some good ideas. Of everything Buchanan saw at Cannes, he thinks the most likely suspects for having drawn Chastain’s ire (and the ire of the other women on the jury panel for the fest, TBH), were Redoubtable, L’Amant Double and Rodin, a trio of French films that treat their female leads as little more than sex objects there to satiate the men in the real leading roles, Buchanan wrote.
Another contender, according to Buchanan, was Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless, a kidnapping film in which the men search for a missing child and the women take selfies and complain about their love lives. Oh boy.
Chastain, who has been a vocal supporter of equal pay in Hollywood for herself and other women in the industry, went on to call for “more female storytellers” who can include stories about “the women that I recognize in my day-to-day life — ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them — they have their own point of view.”
Chastain’s viewpoint isn’t new, but it’s as important now as it was the first time it was said. Equal representation in film — and that extends to not only women as a whole but also to different races, gender identities and so much more — will only make the world a better place by exposing us to all of the beautiful diversity it contains.