Jessica Chastain is no stranger to keeping it real (example: her rolling her eyes in response to Johnny Depp’s lazy earpiece acting). Jessica served as a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival, and when it comes to female characters, she wasn’t exactly thrilled with the movies she saw.
In a video that was tweeted by Ava DuVernay and taken at a press conference after the Cannes awards ceremony, Jessica took everyone to school with her impromptu gender in film studies lecture.
“I do believe that if you have female storytelling, you also have more authentic female characters. This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and 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, and it was quite disturbing to me, 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. And I do hope that when we include more female storytellers we will have more of 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.”
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 29, 2017
Vanity Fair says that Jessica wasn’t the only one to complain about the representation of women in the films at Cannes. Toni Erdmann director and jury member Maren Ade insisted the jury didn’t give awards to women “because they are women.” She added that she wanted to see better material for women as well, saying: “We are missing a lot of stories they can tell, not just about female characters but their view on men.” Fellow jury member Fan Bingbing also said they wanted to encourage more female filmmakers to present more female characters. Will Smith, who was also on the jury, joked that “A couple black folks won’t hurt either” in response to Jessica’s comments.
This all came after Sofia Coppola won the Best Director Award for The Beguiled, making her the second woman to win the award at Cannes (the first happened way back in 1961). 56 years? I barely know how to calculate a tip, and even I know those are some terrible odds.
A quick look at Variety’s 10 best films from the festival shows a lot of movies about men. When it comes to ladies, there’s two movies featuring female sex workers, an “erotic thriller“, and one in which a woman gets murdered by her husband. One of those was directed and written by a woman. More female filmmakers means that there’s a chance there will be more character options out there than hooker, horny lady, and corpse. Although I’ll be honest, Hooker, Horny Lady, & Corpse sounds like a really fun parody of a bank heist caper.
Here’s more of Jessica Chastain on the final day of Cannes along with some of the rest of the Cannes jury.