Cannes did it again. Only 4 women vie for the Palme d’Or

Alexia Muiños Ruiz
Alexia Muiños Ruiz

Year after year, Cannes Film Festival can't find more than 4 films directed by women

Really? After one year of pandemic, many films awaiting their premieres and The Oscars blazing new trails for gender and inclusion, Cannes Film Festival has found only eighteen films out of 64 (28%) directed by women which are worth screening in the festival offical selection. So far, Director's Fortnight line-up has not been revealed but Critics' Week selection has reached 54% of female presence (*).

The numbers scarcely reach 17% in the Official competition39% in Un Certain Regard and 8 more films counting also special screenings, out of competition and Cannes premiere. The numbers in the official competition equal those in 2017 and 2018, before the signing of the pledge for greater gender balance and are even behind the 2020 COVID Cannes. Only 4 out of the 24 films competing for the Palme d'Or have female directors, way too far from equal share.

When compared to Berlinale, where 28% of the films vying for the Golden Bear were female-directed, it seems that Cannes is still a boys' club. Again, featuring the usual suspects auteurs and a global outlook, Cannes is not making the effort in finding  female talent.

As regards the newcomers this is the only section meeting gender parity. However, the Festival will not display a plethora of new names, since only 8 breakthrough directors, of which four women, will compete for the prestigious Caméra d'Or, which awards the best first film throughout the competitions in Cannes.


(*) update after Critics' Week announcement of films.

Women directors on the Official Competition

Cannes official competition and Palme d'Or are indeed a glass ceiling, since only 4 female filmmakers (again) can walk away with the covetted statuette. 

2017 Golden Bear and Caméra d'Or winner, the Hungarian Ildikó ENYEDI presents A FELESÉGEM TÖRTÉNETE (THE STORY OF MY WIFE), her 8th fiction feature film, right after the multiawarded On Body and Soul.

2016 Silver Bear winner and also a Cannes darling, the French Mia HANSEN-LOVE,  makes her first foray in the main competition with BERGMAN ISLAND.

Julia DUCOURNAU (France) ascends into the main competition with TITANE, after her breakthrough film RAW which scooped the FIPRESCI Award in Cannes Critics' Week in 2016.

Actress and director Catherine CORSINI, (the 7th French representative in the main competition) already knows what it means to compete for the Palm d'Or. Her film La Répetition was selected in 2001 and then TROIS MONDES  was screened in Un Certain Regard in 2013.  LA FRACTURE is her 11th fiction feature film.

Ildikó Enyedi

Mia Hansen-LØve

Julia Ducournau

Catherine Corsini

Cannes Premiere

A new sidebar section as a result of the overspill in the main competition and one year drought of films.

Ten films will be screened in this section, featuring COW, the long-awaited documentary by Andrea Arnold (UK), which has not visited Cannes since American Honey, in 2016

Charlotte Gainsbourg's tribute to her celeb mother Jane par Charlotte, which will also compete for Caméra d'Or,  Eva Husson's Mothering Sunday and Ting Poo's co-direction of VAL are the female share at Cannes Premiere.

Out of Competition

De son Vivant (In His Lifetime) by Emmanuelle Bercot, who comes back to Cannes after her acting accolades in Mon Roi, and Aline, the Voice of Love by Valerie Lemercier will be screened out of cometition.

Special Screenings

As regards to Special Screenings, there is an omnibus film in which Laura Poitras (US) and Dominga Sotomayor (Chile) helm, alongside the ubiquous Apitchapong Weerasethakul, Panahi, Anthony Chen and David Lowery, The Year of the Everlasting Storm. In addition to the first announcement, the debut film by actress Noémi MerlantMi iubita, Mon amour (France) will also be screened.

In the MIDNIGHT SCREEINGS, Suprêmes by Audrey Estrougo (France)

A tribute to Jodie Foster: Honorary Palme d'Or

Jodie Foster will receive the Festival’s Honorary Palme d’or “in recognition of her brilliant artistic journey, and a unique personality with a modest yet strong commitment to some of the major issues of our time.”

The first  attended the Cannes Film Festival for the first time aged 13, presenting Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, which would scoop the Palme D’or. Since then, she has presented  films she either starred in or directed herself, to a total sum of seven.


Un Certain Regard

Women's presence escalates considerably in Un Certain Regard but yet, 39% is no better than 2019 and certainly under 2018's 47%. In this year's edition, seven films directed by eight women will be screened.

FREDA - Gessica GÉNÉUS (Haitï). Competing for Caméra d'Or 

 NOCHE DE FUEGO – Tatiana HUEZO (Mexico)

BONNE MÈRE – Hafsia HERZI (France)


WOMEN DO CRY – Mina MILEVA (Bulgaria) and Vesela KAZAKOVA (Bulgaria)

LA CIVIL – Teodora Ana MIHAI (Romania / Belgium). Competing for Caméra d'Or

UN MONDE – Laura WANDEL (Belgium). Competing for Caméra d'Or