Thierry Fremaux to address women and the film industry as part of a joint venture with new sponsor Kering.
Cannes Film Festival general delegate Thierry Frémaux will tackle the controversial topic of women and film during this year’s edition, as one of the first participants in a new female-focused programme called ‘Women in Motion’.
The programme – a joint initiative between the festival and its new sponsor, the luxury goods group Kering – will feature a series of talks on women and film as well as an award celebrating talented women in the industry.
The talks will discuss a wide-range of topics related to women and film, including women’s status, representation within the profession and on screen, the nature of their narrative points of view and their perspective behind the camera, said the festival and Kering in a joint statement.
Frémaux will be one of the first high-profile guests at the inaugural edition of the talks. The full list of speakers will be announced closer to the festival.
Talking about his involvement, Frémaux said: “Women’s contribution to the film industry, be it on screen or behind the camera, is essential and invaluable. By putting this topic on the agenda, we hope to work towards greater recognition of their work and input to cinema.”
“The ‘Women in Motion’ talks, for which I am delighted to be one of the first participants, will also provide the profession with a unique opportunity to further discussions about the necessary advancement of the representation of women and their stories within the film industry,” he added.
Cannes has come under increasing criticism in recent years over the low representation of female directors in its Official Selection. Jane Campion remains the only woman to have won Cannes’ top prize with The Piano in 1993, since the festival’s creation in 1939.
Although acknowledging that the poor representation of women in the film industry at large was an issue that should be tackled, Frémaux has always been reluctant to discuss the subject in the context of Cannes.
Monday’s announcement also gave details of two new “Women in Motion’ awards, due to be launched in 2016. Under the plans, one prize will be awarded to an “iconic” female cinema figure, who in turn will select a young female filmmaker whose talent deserves recognition and support.
To celebrate the creation of the new honours, an exceptional special award will presented at a Cannes presidential dinner on May 17.
Paris-based Kering said in the statement that the ‘Women in Motion’ initiative was in keeping with its existing commitment to women’s causes, including the Kering Foundation’s campaign to combat violence against women.
The group, which was rebranded as Kering in 2013 from PPR, is the holding company for more than 20 luxury fashion brands including Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Gucci and Saint Laurent.
Company chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault said of the ‘Women in Motion’ initiative: “I am very enthusiastic about the idea of Kering supporting women in the film industry at Cannes. The artistic sensibility of women and the specific nature of female narration are an integral part of the richness of cinema.”
“The ‘Women in Motion’ programme does not just aim at highlighting the talent of women in cinema, but also emphasises the interest of their work for audiences. Enhancing their visibility is essential when we consider the impact that films have on our ways of thinking and, ultimately, our everyday behaviour. It is precisely in this spirit of open- mindedness and cultural enrichment that we have created the ‘Women in Motion’ programme.”
Kering and Cinema
Kering’s decision to sponsor Cannes – in a deal set for an initial five years – is not the group’s first foray into cinema.
Through its foundation and brands, the group has backed a number of cinema projects over the last decade.
As part of its campaign to combat violence against women, it supported Sherry Hormann’s 2009 Desert Flower, about Somali supermodel and anti FGM campaigner Waris Dirie, and Cecilia Peck’s Brave Miss World about Israeli beauty queen and rape victim Linor Abargil, who fought for her assailant to be convicted and has since become an activist against sexual violence.
As part of its sustainability drive, the group also backed Yann Arthus Bertrand’s Home, capturing how mankind is threatening the earth’s ecological balance, and Luc Jacquet’s upcoming Ice and Sky, about French glaciologist Claude Lorius, which will be released to coincide with climate change talks in Paris later this year.
Kering is also a partner in Luc Besson’s Ecole de la Cité, aimed at giving youngsters from a diverse set of backgrounds training to enter the film industry and has supported cinema bodies such as the Tribeca Film Insitute, Britdoc, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Lumiere Theatre in Lyon.