Cannes Film Festival 2011

Women to Watch at Cannes

Independant/Festival de Cannes 2011

“Where are the women?” that was the standard response after looking at the Cannes Film Festival official selection line up in 2010. Organisers have responded to the backlash by including four female directors in the main competition, and two female directors in the Un Certain Regard section.


Julia Leigh is one of the directors to watch at Cannes this year. The Australian native not only penned the screenplay Sleeping Beauty but has also directed the piece as her first feature film.

Described as a highly-charged story loosely adapted from the fairy tale, Lucy, a young and beautiful university student, takes a job as a ‘sleeping beauty’. She must entirely submit to old men who are seeking a complete erotic experience.

Already a published novelist with The Hunter (1999) and Disquiet (2008), Leigh wrote the screenplay in 2008, where it was promptly put on the Hollywood Black List of the best unproduced screenplays.

Leigh is up against accomplished Japanese director Naomi Kawase, who brings Hanezu, her 14th film, to Cannes this year. Hanezu takes place in the Asuka region of Japan, Kawase’s hometown, and follows two main characters who are impatient and unable to feel grateful for the present.

Asuka is the birthplace of Japan, where in ancient times, people fulfilled their lives while waiting for something.

She won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes in 1997 for Suzaku, and with it the distinction of being the youngest person to win the award in the history of the festival. In addition to her feature films, she has made a number of award-winning documentaries.

In her long-awaited third film, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay brings We Need to Talk About Kevin to the table.

Based on a best-selling novel with the same name by Lionel Schriver, Eva, played by multi-talented Tilda Swinton, sacrifices her career to give birth to Kevin. Fifteen years later, Kevin commits an unforgiveable act that causes Eva to deal with feelings of grief and responsibility.

Ramsay is also known to Cannes honchos she won two awards in Cannes previously for Morvern Callar (2002). Everyone is hailing this piece as Ramsay’s comeback.

The fourth female director in the group started out in front of the camera. Maiwenn, a movie and theatre actress, directs Poliss, a feature about cops working in the Juvenile Protection Unit in France.

Maiwenn shows the group at work and after they have clocked out and how they deal with the stresses of the job and their own relationships.

Maiwenn previously directed I am an Actrice (2003) and Le Bal des Actrices (2009).

In the Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes, Nadine Labaki directs Wo Hallah La Wen? (Where do We Go Now?) and Juliana Rojas partners with Marco Dutra in directing duties with Hard Labor.

Presenting only six out of 41 directors seems sparse, but perhaps this is the beginning of a new decade for the Cannes Film Festival.

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