Whether it’s movie awards or cinema festivals, the presence of women seems to be stronger on the red carpet than in writing, directing and producing films. But women are doing things in cinema other than looking lovely in posh frocks, and can we PLEASE stop playing down our achievements? When it comes to the Cannes Film Festival, these five female film directors have lit up the screens – gaining critical claim and carrying off those coveted awards along the way…
Campion was the first female filmmaker in history to win the coveted Palme D’Or in 1993 for The Piano, which also gained no less than three Academy Awards. Roger Ebert said of the film: “It is one of those rare movies that is not just about a story, or some characters, but about a whole universe of feeling – of how people can be shut off from each other, lonely and afraid, about how help can come from unexpected sources, and about how you’ll never know if you never ask.”
Since her win, Campion has gone on to serve as head of the jury for the main competition section for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Our pick of her notable recent works? Campion’s engaging, enigmatic miniseries Top of the Lake won universal acclaim.
Satrapi’s debut work Persepolis was awarded the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 2007. The Iranian-born illustrator and director’s autobiographical film enthralled audiences with its sensitive, powerful and funny look at life during the Islamic Revolution. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw said of Persepolis: “Here is an adaptation so inspired, so simple and so frictionless in its transformation of the source material that it’s almost a miracle.”
Sartrapi’s latest film is The Voices: a black comedy starring Ryan Reynolds as a serial killer who converses with his pets – and the severed heads of his victims, who include Anna Kendrick and Gemma Arterton. Sounds pretty unlikely, right? The Voices might be bizarre and more than a little quirky, but it’s also very, very funny.
Carrying off the Grand Jury Prize amidst controversy at Cannes in 2014, Rohrwacher’s The Wonders is only the Italian director’s second film. Although some might have questioned Jane Campion’s choice after her complaints of institutionalised sexism in the cinema industry, there’s no doubt about Rohrwacher’s talent. A beautifully-observed coming-of-age tale, we anticipate great things to come.
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
2007 saw Les Actrices win the Prix Spécial du Jury in the Un Certain Regard section. Directed by, written and starring Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, it’s a thoughtful – and at times funny – look what it means to be a woman from the ticking of the old body clock to relationships and romance.
Since Cannes? Bruni Tedeschi’s A Castle in Italy was more positively received than her first film, with Variety explaining: “The helmer’s third semi-autobiographical feature touches on themes of mortality and middle-aged panic in a mostly breezy, intelligent style.”
Receiving the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2010, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank is a gritty, powerful film with two genuinely captivating performances at its centre. “The kind of thriller that Ken Loach might make in collaboration with Michael Haneke, a slice of social-realist cinema in which we are never sure what – if anything – is about happen. It’s oppressively pessimistic but also utterly gripping,” said the Financial Times.
Since her win at Cannes, Arnold has continued to impress, with her fresh take on Wuthering Heights both a critical and commercial success.