Serving as a jury member at this year’s Cannes Film Festival gave actress Jessica Chastain the perfect platform to reiterate her disappointment in the film industry’s treatment of females.
She told the audience during a press conference that after viewing so many films as a jury member, she is still dismayed at how women are portrayed, saying, “I do believe that if you have female storytelling you also have more authentic female characters. This is the first time I watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies. The one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women, from the female characters that were represented. It was quite disturbing to me, to be honest…”
She went on to say, “There were some exceptions, I will say, [but] for the most part, I was surprised by the representation of female characters on screen in these films.”
She ended her speech by asking for female inclusion, urging that their stories be told: “I do hope that when we include more female storytellers, we will have more women that I recognize in my own day-to-day life. Ones that are proactive, have their own agency, don’t just react to the men around them. They have their own point of view.”
If one beacon of hope for change and progress can be found, it’s in the fact that Sofia Coppola was awarded the coveted prize for best director for her dramatic thriller The Beguiled, which releases June 30th. In the festival’s 70-year history, she is only the second woman to be given the prestigious designation.
Chastain, who is a two-time Oscar-nominated actress, has been vocal in the past about the inequalities females face in the film industry, such as the pay gap between genders. She frequently speaks out against injustices she has seen and suffered herself, and rightfully so.
Films and those in the industry have a unique position in that they have the opportunity to tell stories that can move and inspire. But when it is centered on only one perspective and a singular portrayal that is male-centric, no one is getting the whole story, and the opportunity for the richness and depth that is film is wasted. ~Alexa Caruso