|Cannes film festival: Lynne Ramsay leads female charge|
April 14, 2011
After criticism of last year's male-dominated shortlist, the Cannes film festival puts British director of We Need to Talk About Kevin alongside three other female film-makers in Palme D'Or running
British director Lynne Ramsay is set to lead a quartet of female film-makers into competition at next month's Cannes film festival – the largest representation in the event's 64-year history. Scots-born Ramsay, whose previous films include Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar, will contest the crowning Palme d'Or award with We Need to Talk About Kevin, an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Lionel Shriver. Backed by BBC Films, the picture stars Tilda Swinton and John C Reilly as middle-class parents toiling to understand the actions of their sociopathic teenaged son.
The 2010 Cannes film festival was criticised for a competition shortlist entirely dominated by male directors. The organisers appear to have taken the comments to heart. Joining Ramsay in the race for the Palme d'Or are Japan's Naomi Kawase, France's Maiwenn Le Besco and the Australian novelist and film-maker Julia Leigh, whose debut picture, Sleeping Beauty, is billed as an erotic drama about a university student forced into prostitution.
"It's hard to say what goes on behind closed doors, during the Cannes selection process," Luc Roeg, the producer of We Need to Talk About Kevin, told the Guardian. "Perhaps the attention the organisers got last year [about the absence of female directors] was a factor in there being four women there this time. But I would hope that it all comes down to the quality of the films. Lynne isn't in the festival because she's a female director. She's there because she's the right director with the right film - and I'm sure the same is true of the other three."
Elsewhere, the Cannes competition has found room for the usual suspects, including former winners Nanni Moretti and the Dardenne brothers. Pedro Almodóvar returns to the Croisette with The Skin I Live In, a revenge saga that its director describes as "a horror story without screams or frights", while Lars von Trier is set to unveil Melancholia, an apocalyptic family drama starring Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg. No doubt expectations will be high: the maverick Danish director sparked uproar at the 2009 festival with his controversial last film, Antichrist.
Other potential highlights include Nicolas Winding Refn's noir thriller Drive and Paolo Sorrentino's This Must Be the Place, in which Sean Penn plays a jaded rock star on the trail of a Nazi war criminal. The world's press, on the other hand, are likely to be on the trail of writer-director Terrence Malick. The reclusive American film-maker is expected in town to promote The Tree of Life, an intergenerational family saga that is only his fifth feature in 40 years. It remains to be seen whether Malick will stoop to attending the mandatory Cannes press conference.
A total of 19 films are in contention for this year's Palme d'Or. The winner will be decided, behind closed doors, by a jury headed by the American actor Robert De Niro.
Away from the main competition, the event has scheduled screenings of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the Jodie Foster film The Beaver, in which an anguished Mel Gibson can only communicate via his hand-puppet. Assuming Von Trier refuses to play ball, it may be left to the disgraced, smarting Gibson to provide this year's bona fide Cannes controversy.
Source: The Guardian
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