Widely regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, the Cannes Film Festival has nevertheless been criticized for the historic lack of films directed by women screened in the competition. Though last year’s festival saw a record 15 women directors represented in the Official Selection, only one woman has ever won the coveted Palme d’Or: Jane Campion, for The Piano (1993). This year, festival directors appear to be responding to that criticism by launching the “Women In Motion” program, in partnership with the luxury brand Kering.
The program will feature a number of talks on women in the industry and will introduce two new awards to the competition beginning in 2016: one recognizing a woman who has made a significant contribution to cinema, and one for an emerging female filmmaker. An honorary award will also be presented at this year’s Presidential Dinner on May 17. According to incoming president Pierre Lescure, quoted in Deadline:
We are opening another chapter in the history of the Festival de Cannes and are paving the way for the cinema of tomorrow, enriched by a greater variety of points of view and by the diversity of films. This initiative perfectly corresponds to the new momentum we wish to give the competition.
The Cannes program is the latest large-scale effort to increase the recognition of women in cinema. Actress Geena Davis, who created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media in 2007 for this purpose, recently announced the launch of the Bentonville Film Festival, which will celebrate women and diversity in film. The festival will run from May 5-9, 2015 in Bentonville, Arkansas, just a week before Cannes.