Female Filmmakers at Cannes 2018

Every month, the Film Hub South West team write a column for the Big Issue, and this month, in light of the powerful gender equality protest at Cannes Film Festival, we’re highlighting our favourite female directed films opening at Cannes 2018…

Cannes Film Festival, one of the world’s most respected (and glamourous) film festivals, faced protests this year to highlight the continuing gender inequality within the film industry.  While five out of nine Cannes Competition Jury members were female, led by Jury President, Cate Blanchett and featuring Kristen Stewart, Lea Seydoux, Ava DuVernay and singer-songwriter, Khadja Nin, only three out of twenty-one films in competition were directed by women.

On the first Saturday of the Festival, 82 film industry women protested on the red carpet. The actresses and film-makers linked arms and walked the red carpet together. Cate Blanchett spoke of the film industry’s gender inequalities: “We are 82 women, representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes film festival in 1946. In the same period, 1,688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs.”

In the spirit of this protest, we wanted to highlight some of the incredible films opening at Cannes 2018, made by female filmmakers.  Here’s our top four to look out for in the months ahead…

Rafiki (Dir. Wanuri Kahiu)

The first ever Kenyan film to screen at Cannes is a vibrant homage to the sights and sounds of Nairobi streets – the director described it on opening night as a “love song to her country”. Rafiki tells the story of two young women, both daughters of local politicians, who strike up a friendship and fall in love. Their blossoming relationship takes place against a backdrop of homophobia and intolerance, in a country where same-sex relationships are punishable by up to 14 years in prison. While it was banned in Kenya, it played to rapturous audiences in Cannes, and we look forward to seeing it in cinemas across the UK.

Happy As Lazzaro (Dir. Alice Rohrwacher)

Part period piece, set in the dappled sunshine of the Italian countryside, part magical-realist time travel movie, Happy as Lazzaro draws you into its mesmerising tale of community and corruption, rural life and harsh modernity. The other-worldly Lazzaro, the young and inscrutable peasant farmer of the film’s title, carries out the farm jobs no one else wants to do and is affectionately teased by the other villagers. When the lady of the manor – the Marquesa, a tobacco magnate – returns with her son Tancredi, things take a turn for the weirder…Happy as Lazzaro is a singularly intriguing film that will stay with you for a long time after watching. The trailer below is in Italian, with the film itself having English subtitles.

Girls of the Sun (Dir. Eva Husson)

This all-woman action film based on the true story of Kurdish freedom fighters –  who were taken hostage by Islamic State but on escaping took up arms against their former captors – has been criticised for playing fast and loose with the facts. Nevertheless, Girls of the Sun is an incredibly suspenseful and gripping film, a powerful tale of female empowerment and a rallying cry for action against oppression. Told from the point of view of French journalist, Mathilde, herself seriously affected by war, the story follows the life and history of Bahar, the leader of the all-female battallion, and her comrades. It is tense, taut and packs a hefty emotional punch.

Capernaum (Dir. Nadine Labaki)

The opening night screening of Capernaum received a FIFTEEN MINUTE standing ovation…that’s right, fifteen minutes! Many have predicted Nadine Labaki’s politically charged fable following a child who sues his own family will win the top prize at Cannes, the Palme D’Or.  It’s quite a feat that Labaki has taken a story of abuse, extreme poverty, anger and resilience and transformed it into what film critic Robbie Collins describes as, “a kind of social-realist blockbuster.”  Watch this space for more news on Capernaum, quite possibly one of next year’s Oscar contenders.

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