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Cannes Prefers James to Marilyn

Despite being one of Hollywood's most legendary and cherished stars, and while Cannes pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of her death, Marilyn Monroe never graced the festival with her presence.

Despite being one of Hollywood's most legendary and cherished stars, and while Cannes pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of her death, Marilyn Monroe has never graced the festival with her presence.

I wondered why and delved right into the history of this mythical film festival, known to love the odd flirt with controversy.

The start of its 65th anniversary, was marked by a rapidly quenched imbroglio surrounding the official selection of the festival sporting no female directing talent.

Many conversations with directors, producers and actors later, I came to think that the film industry as a whole is much more programmed to relish in what women bring in acting talent, glamour and beauty but less so drawn to what their pretty little heads may produce deemed worthy of the silver screen.

In 1946 while rather dashing, established chaps like Billy Wilder and Roberto Rosselini swept the awards away, a portuguese actress-turned-director, a bona fide pioneer who went by the name of Barbara Virginia, presented her first and only film at this first Cannes edition.

47 years later in 1993, Australian-born Jane Campion went on to become the Festival's legendary "only" female in 65 years of international film festing, to ever walk away with the coveted Palme d'Or for her masterpiece "The Piano".

As a director I think it is a delicate line, advocating for the inclusion of women in a world not inclined to do so, while also thinking that an industry as important as the film industry is in utter need to keep the next generation of Ava Gardner's, Greta Garbo's and Gina Lollobrigida's coming.

Just as much as the James Dean's and the Gregory Peck's of course. Although our male counterparts' place behind or before the camera is never put into question.

They can comfortably be on either side without their relevance constantly being measured in correlation to their gender.

It led me to think that the film industry is nothing without its illustrious screen royalty who have been adulated the world over, and with their star quality made cinema that which it always aspired to be: a dream, a myth, a parallel reality.

I was at first rather taken aback by the statement released in response to the controversy by mistress of ceremonies' Berenice Bejo, who gained worldwide fame after her performance in "The Artist". According to Bejo, women mostly dream of swanning around the red carpet escorted by a masterpiece producing director and likened the gender imbalance of the film profession to the nursing profession, where the overwhelming majority are women, and thus relegating the latter to being better suited to care positions. I thought it unjust to speak for all women, including those who are creating, budgeting, thinking, trying and dreaming to get their film projects assembled with the hope to one day see them come to life.

While rubbing shoulders with Hollywood's legendary merchant prince Harvey Weinstein, and catching up with Lebanese grand music talent Khaled Mouzanar, out on the Croisette the crowds are undeterred by the incessant rain. Though I am unashamed to admit to have been put off by the prospect of making a spectacle of myself gowned and high-heeled on a rain-drenched red carpet, surrounded by hundreds of photographers from around the world dying to immortalise every slip up.

I conclude with a mental note to self as this 65th edition draws to its end; sending one's film in while changing one's first name to John, Miguel or Roberto may just get you that extra credit to be selected. Once in a blue moon miracles do happen, and when they do, you might want to be prepared to knock on Tom Ford's door for a tuxedo fitting and say bye bye to your dream of ascending the famous steps in a beautiful Elie Saab.

After all, even L'Oreal, Cannes premier sponsor says it: We're worth it. All of it.

So we better start believing it.