The Cannes Film Festival is battling charges of sexism after officials failed to chose a single female-directed movie among its 22 competition films. In a scathing open letter printed in the French media, a group of prominent female directors accuse organizers of failing to recognize the achievement of women in the film industry. Last year, four women directors were featured. "The directors of the 22 films in competition this year are all, by happy coincidence, men," the letter states sarcastically. "For the 63rd time in its existence, the festival will crown one of its own, defending without fail virile values." The festival "shows one more time that men like depth in women, but only in their cleavage," the statement adds.
The French feminist group La Barbe launched an online complaining petition the day the letter was printed, and garnered some 1,500 signatures, mostly from women working in the industry. Cannes officials yesterday dismissed the concerns, indicating no films directed by women merited a place in the line-up competing for the Palme D'Or honor—though some works by women directors will be shown outside of the official competition, reports the BBC. "Cannes is a small pocket that represents how it is out there in the world and that's a great pity, a great disappointment," said British film director Andrea Arnold, one of four women on the nine-member festival jury. "I would absolutely hate it if my film was selected because I was a woman. I would only want my film to be selected for the right reasons."