We kick off our #WomenAtCannes podcast season with an episode on the history of women at Cannes. We examine how Cannes works and uncover a number of surprising stats.
Don’t miss a single episode. Become a member.
Get exclusive access to our entire podcast archive of 150+ episodes, all future members-only episodes, and early access to new podcast seasons.
Listen to the whole season on Women at Cannes
Today’s episode is the first of four episodes celebrating achievements of women directors at the Cannes Film Festival in Competition and beyond.
Episode 1: Why are we celebrating women at Cannes?
On today’s episode, we ask, why are we talking about women directors at Cannes now? We run through the history of women at the festival, run the numbers, and ask why so little has changed over almost 80 years.
This is the first episode in a podcast season that we’re running because we want the issue of Cannes’ structural sexism to be at the forefront of the conversation around the festival this year. And we want to celebrate the great filmmakers whose wonderful films have made it through Cannes’ impossible hoops, like Kelly Reichardt who is in Competition this year!
This episode on women at Cannes history features Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, Executive Editor Orla Smith, and Associate Editor Brett Pardy.
On this episode
- How Cannes works (2:55)
- Running the numbers on women at Cannes (10:47)
- Chantal Akerman and Agnès Varda at Cannes (21:10)
- The importance of the Cannes sidebars (23:37)
- Learn more about the Women in the Cannes Competition Box Set (33:14)
- How Cannes markets itself (34:46)
- Cannes awards (38:05)
- The lack of intersectionality in this conversation (42:45)
- A case study on Cannes 2021 (46:58)
- Conclusion (55:39)
- Coming soon (1:00:25)
More about the episode on the history of women directors at Cannes
As far as we know, nobody has ever bothered to write a complete history (or timeline) of women directors who have been programmed at Cannes (in any section).
For this podcast season, our Associate Editor Dr. Brett Pardy has fixed that, and made a timeline showing the history of all the women feature filmmakers who have ever been programmed by Cannes since its inception.
In the episode of the podcast, we run through the Cannes Film Festival’s history of programming women directors, discussing which legendary and influential filmmakers were somehow never programmed in Competition, only in the Cannes sidebars (*cough* Chantal Akerman *cough*). And which directors were only ever programmed at the festival once. You might be surprised by all the ommissions — and surprised to discover names you haven’t heard of!
On the podcast, we talk about how little has changed in the history of the Cannes film festival — women have been programmed in the Cannes Competition semi-regularly since the inception of Cannes in 1946, only in very small numbers. And look, they’re still being programmed in small numbers!
In a time when other festivals, like Sundance, have been at gender parity in their competitions for multiple years, why is Cannes, as an institution, lagging behind? We investigate their specific brand of sexism.
We also celebrate the festival’s sidebars, like Director’s Fortnight and International Critics’ Week, which are (and have for a while been) way ahead of the Competition. Not just for their programming of women, but for their ability to recognise filmmakers that are producing genuinely innovative work.
Stay updated about the Women at Cannes season and more
Sign up to get updates in your inbox on the Women at Cannes season, streaming recommendations for films by women at Cannes in past years, and more.
- Stay up to date with all of our women directors at Cannes coverage both from this year and past years.
- Sign up to get updates in your inbox on the Women at Cannes season, streaming recommendations for films by women at Cannes in past years, and more.
- View our resource page documenting every film directed by a woman at the Cannes Film Festival and its sidebars .
- Bonus 28: Portraits of female artists: Part 2 (Members Only)
- Ep. 114: Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come and Bergman Island (Members Only)
- Ep. 102: Cannes 2021 (Members Only)
- Ep. 90: Jeanne Dielman and Les Rendez-vous d’Anna: A Chantal Akerman mother’s day (Members Only)
Get the Women Directors in Cannes Competition Box Set
Get the box set of books about women directors — Kelly Reichardt, Céline Sciamma, and Lynne Ramsay — who have screened films in the Cannes Competition.