Jane Campion is going to be a very, very chill Cannes Jury president, if today’s opening-day press conference is any indication. “I’m running a kind of starless school,” she told reporters. “Everybody has to take responsibility for themselves. They just have to see the films.” Even if they’re hungover from Cannes’s famous party scene, we presume.
Joining Campion on this year’s Cannes jury are Sofia Coppola; Willem Dafoe; Gael García Bernal; Chinese director Jia Zhangke (A Touch of Sin); veteran French actress Carole Bouquet; Jeon Do-yeoh, the first Korean to win Best Actress in Cannes for 2007’s Secret Sunshine; Iranian actress Leila Hatami (A Separation); and Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. Refn’s bestie and frequent collaborator Ryan Gosling is debuting Lost River, his first film as a writer-director, in the edgier Un Certain Regard section of the competition. And while Gosling’s movie is outside of Refn’s scope as a juror — not that he could be objective anyway — he said, “of course I’m going to attend his world premiere.”
That wasn’t the dominant concern at the jury’s opening press conference, though. Over and over again, reporters from different countries asked Campion whether her jury would have “an agenda.” This is coming after plenty of speculation that last year’s Stephen Spielberg–led jury gave the Palme d’Or to the lesbian coming-of-age story Blue Is the Warmest Color to make a point about anti-gay-marriage riots that were happening simultaneously in Paris that summer. Campion is the only woman in Cannes’s 67-year history to win the Palme d’Or. Did she feel some duty to reward female filmmakers? No, said Campion, while adding that, given a preponderance of evidence, “you’d have to say there is some inherent sexism in the industry.” Only 7 percent of the 1,800 films submitted to Cannes were by women, though the festival’s director Thierry Frémaux proudly told Campion that 20 percent of the movies that were accepted were by women. The festival may be making tiny progress in correcting a gross disparity, but “Nevertheless, it does feel very undemocratic, and time and time again we don’t get our share of representation,” said Campion. “And it’s not that I resent male filmmakers, but this is something that women can do and we don’t get to know enough about. It’s always a surprise when a woman’s movie does come out and you really do get a more feminine perspective.”
Still, with the opening-night gala coming up, and ten more days of black-tie events to come, Campion had more pressing dilemmas on her mind. “My big problem is what to wear,” she said. “There’s a very high bar to glamour here. I just want to scrape in, you know?”