Entertainment & Arts

Cannes Film Festival jury denies 'sexism' claim

Ewan McGregor and Andrea Arnold
Image caption Actor Ewan McGregor and director Andrea Arnold are on the Palme d'Or jury

The jury for the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or has spoken out over claims of sexism prompted by the lack of female film-makers in the running.

Critics have complained that all 22 films in the contest have been directed by men, many past winners of the award.

But jury member British director Andrea Arnold said: "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."

The jury press conference on Wednesday preceded a gala screening of the opening night film, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom.

Starring Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, the film is among those in contention for the Palme d'Or award.

Others who have made the cut include Britain's Ken Loach, Austria's Michael Haneke and the French director Jacques Audiard - all previous winners of the prize.

In an open letter released earlier this week, a group of French film-makers accused the organisers of failing to recognise the achievements of female directors.

Last year four women - including Scotland's Lynne Ramsay, director of We Need to Talk About Kevin - had films in contention.

Yet Arnold - director of the recent screen adaptation of Wuthering Heights - said the lack of women in competition this year reflected the industry as a whole.

"Last year was obviously a good year," she said. "I was asked this earlier and it's true the world over - in the world of film there are just not many woman film directors.

"I guess Cannes is a small pocket that represents how it is out there in the world and that's a great pity, a great disappointment."

Led by Italian director Nanni Moretti and including fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, US director Alexander Payne and Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, the jury will watch all the nominated films and announce a winner on 27 May.

German actress Diane Kruger, known for such films as Inglourious Basterds and Troy, is one of four women on the jury.

Kruger's film Lily Sometimes closed the Director's Fortnight - a special section of the festival that shows features, documentaries and short films - in 2010.

It was directed by a woman, Fabienne Berthaud, prompting Kruger to insist: "My impression is that women are made welcome in Cannes."

Other female film-makers at Cannes this year include Haiffa al Mansour, the first female Saudi director.

France's Catherine Corsini and Sylvie Verheyde, meanwhile, are competing in the Un Certain Regard section of the event.

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