Cannes Artistic Director on Festival's Lack of Female Directors: "Do Not Blame Cannes"

Following the April 14 lineup announcement that revealed only three of 20 films in the fest are directed by women, outspoken actress Rose McGowan said, "Those 17 who are not women should be forced to walk down the red carpet in high heels."
Monica Schipper/FilmMagic
Rose McGowan

A version of this story first appeared in the May 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

With Andrea Arnold's American Honey, Mal de Pierres by Nicole Garcia and Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann, just three films out of 20 — or 15 percent — in the official selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival are directed by women.

But that's not the festival's problem, according to artistic director Thierry Fremaux. "To have more women in Cannes, we have to have more women in cinema," he said after the lineup was announced April 14. "Cannes is not the problem. Do not blame Cannes."

The figure is a step up from last year (with two female-directed films), but it's a fall from 2012 when there were four — which, sadly, is a Cannes record for female helmers.

"That's not good," said Judy Greer at a women filmmakers luncheon, presented by Chanel and the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival's Through Her Lens workshop. Jennifer Westfeldt tried to see the silver lining: "Slow and steady, right?"

Rose McGowan shared an idea for the rest of the lineup. "Those 17 who are not women should be forced to walk down the red carpet in high heels," she told The Hollywood Reporter, referencing the fest's "flatgate" controversy last year, during which it was rumored that women would be required to wear heels on the Croisette. "There are so many levels of embedded misogyny that people don't even realize; it starts with, 'You have to wear high heels,' and goes to 'We don't accept you as a filmmaker.'"

"The reality is, most of these men are not great," McGowan continued. "What's good now is considered 'great,' and what's mediocre is considered 'good.' That has to change."

With a hopeful smile, she added, "I figure, if the boys aren't doing it right, step aside."