Sofia Coppola winning best director at the Cannes Film Festival on the weekend, for her star-studded thriller The Beguiled, marked only the second time a woman has earned that particular honour. The first dates back nearly six decades, to 1961 when Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva won for Chronicle of Flaming Years. A long time coming? Heck, yeah. So it makes perfect sense that Jessica Chastain, who has long been a proponent of gender equality in Hollywood and helped start a production company that focuses on promoting women in front of and behind the camera, had something to say.
The two-time Oscar nominee was a jury member at Cannes, and after watching 20 movies, what she took away from the experience was quite troubling. Chastain took the opportunity to share her thoughts during a press conference following Coppola’s win, and all she needs is a minute to reveal so much truth about the representation of women in film today.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 29, 2017
“I do believe that if you have female storytelling you also have more authentic female characters,” said Chastain. “This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies, and the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters that I saw represented. And it was quite disturbing to me, to be honest.”
She did acknowledge that there were some exceptions but, for the most part, she “was surprised with the representation of female characters on screen in these films.” Her hope is if the industry allows for more females to tell their stories, there will be more women in film that she recognizes. “Ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just don’t react to the men around them” and “have their own point-of-view.” Yes, Jes! Yes to all of this.
Many in Hollywood not only applauded Chastain but thanked her too. Because Chastain not only said it, but said it to a room full of people that probably didn’t want to hear it. So brava, Jessica, for sounding off.
— America Ferrera (@AmericaFerrera) May 30, 2017
More women directors, writers and producers pls! https://t.co/7kFxh6vuSZ
— Paola Mendoza (@paolamendoza) May 30, 2017
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) May 30, 2017
On the jury at Cannes, had the platform to say whatever she wanted, and spoke her truth! https://t.co/xYxvh8Y31p
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) May 30, 2017
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) May 30, 2017
— Jaime King (@Jaime_King) May 30, 2017
Truly badass. https://t.co/UdnRsNPYhS
— Aidy Bryant (@aidybryant) May 30, 2017
— Melinda McGraw (@Melinda_McGraw) May 30, 2017