Cannes Director Thierry Fremaux: Jessica Chastain Helped Me Understand the ‘Female Gaze’ and Need for Equality

Chastain made an impassioned speech while serving on the jury last year.

The film industry is changing, and Cannes is changing with it. Well, kind of: Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s director, is still resistant to the idea of including Netflix titles in the Official Selection unless their movies open in theaters and has called for a ban on red-carpet selfies. That said, he knows that Cannes must strive for equality in the selection process — something he credits Jessica Chastain with helping him realize.

“We are equalizing the proportion of women staffing the festival and within our selection committees, which is important: last year, Jessica Chastain, who was on the jury, made me understand the importance of the ‘female gaze’ during the selection process,” he explains in an interview with Variety. Chastain was on the jury last year, and used her platform to call for more films that accurately represent the female experience.

“I do hope that when we include more female storytellers we will have more of the kinds of women that I recognize in my day to day life,” she said. “Ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them, they have their own point of view.”

“She was right. We are also adding our voices to the fight for equal pay. These topics abound. The world is not the same since the Weinstein case; it has woken up. And it’s fortunate,” Fremaux adds.

More needs to be done, of course. Fremaux notes that “The Piano” director Jane Campion “remains the only woman who won the Palme d’Or, I hope another woman director will succeed her.” Read the full interview here.