Greta Gerwig Will Make Some Much-Needed History At Cannes Film Festival Next Year

The French competition has a long history of overlooking women in film.

Filmmaker Greta Gerwig will make history at the Cannes Film Festival next year when she becomes the first-ever female American director to lead the competition’s jury ― making a small dent in the nearly 80-year-old festival’s longstanding focus on male filmmakers.

Gerwig, who directed this summer’s record-shattering hit “Barbie,” and the festival’s organizers made the announcement Thursday, five months ahead of the film competition in the French Riviera.

“I am stunned and thrilled and humbled to be serving as the president of the Cannes Film Festival Jury. I cannot wait to see what journeys are in store for all of us!” Gerwig said in a statement.

“As a cinephile, Cannes has always been the pinnacle of what the universal language of movies can be. Being in the place of vulnerability, in a dark theatre filled with strangers, watching a brand-new film is my favorite place to be,” she continued.

Greta Gerwig attends the 33rd Annual Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on Nov. 27 in New York City.
Greta Gerwig attends the 33rd Annual Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on Nov. 27 in New York City.
Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images

Cannes organizers noted that as jury president, Gerwig, 40, will also be the youngest since Sofia Loren in 1966, the second female director after Jane Campion in 2014 and the second American woman after actor Olivia de Haviland in 1965.

Gerwig has been one of the biggest names in American cinema in recent years. Her first solo work, 2017’s “Lady Bird,” was nominated for five Academy Awards. Her second, 2019’s adaptation of “Little Woman,” garnered six.

Her box-office smash hit “Barbie” has made Gerwig “the most bankable female film director in history,” festival organisers said Thursday. The film inspired by the iconic doll grossed $1.44 billion, making it the highest-grossing film of 2023 and the 14th highest-grossing film of all time. It was also nominated for a record-breaking 18 Critics’ Choice Awards.

In naming Gerwig as jury president, the Cannes Film Festival makes some strides toward rectifying its history of overlooking female filmmakers. Since the competition launched in 1946, only three female directors have won the Palme d’Or ― the highest honour awarded at the festival ― and two out of three of them were awarded that prize in the past three years. Only two women have ever taken home the festival’s Best Director award.

Those statistics are likely a product of very few female-helmed films being selected for the competition in the first place. In 2022, Cannes included just five female-led films among the 21 vying for the Palme d’Or ― and that was a record at the time. The festival upped that number last year, featuring seven women out of 21 entrants.


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