With only three female directors among the 18 in competition, the organisers clearly felt the need to make a stronger gesture towards women.
With only three female directors among the 18 in competition, the organisers clearly felt the need to make a stronger gesture towards women.

Hollywood actresses Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux will head a starry female-dominated jury at the Cannes film festival next month, the organisers said on Wednesday.

American writer-director Ava DuVernay of Selma fame and Burundian singer and composer Khadja Nin complete the five women on the nine-person jury that will decide the top Palme d’Or prize.

In a year when the #MeToo movement has dominated the headlines, and with only three female directors among the 18 in competition, the organisers clearly felt the need to make a stronger gesture towards women.

Yet as the majority-female jury was unveiled talks were under way behind the scenes to allow the banned Danish director Lars Von Trier, who has denied sexual harassment claims from singer Bjork, back into the competition.

Von Trier was barred from Cannes in 2011 for saying he was a Nazi, and the Icelandic star — who won best actress at Cannes in 2000 for her performance in his musical Dancer in the Dark — claimed in October that he had harassed her on set.

However, Cannes director Thierry Fremaux strongly hinted Tuesday that Von Trier was on the point of being brought back into the fold.

Von Trier denied the claims and his producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen told the Danish daily Jyllands Posten that it was he and Von Trier who “were the victims”.

The remaining male members of the Cannes jury include Taiwanese actor Chang Chen, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve and French writer Robert Guediguian.

Two of the directors competing for the Palme d’Or, Iranian master Jafar Panahi and Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov, are banned from leaving their countries and look certain not to attend.

The French authorities pleaded with the Iranian government for Panahi, maker of Taxi Tehran, who has faced arrest, imprisonment and a bar on making films in his homeland.

This year’s festival runs from May 8 to 19 at the French Riviera resort.


Originally published in Dawn, April 19th, 2018

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