Cannes 2020 and women?©

Cesars ceremony, Cannes 2020, French Cinema

Every year the very official Centre du Cinéma Français (CNC) publishes its report on the state of French cinema. The last available report published by the CNC is that of 2018:

Out of the total number of films that have been released in France, there are:
75% male directors, 23% female directors, 2% mixed.

The average cost for films made by women is 55% lower than that of films made by men.

The gap has been widening over the last ten years, with the average budget for films by men directors falling by 17%, while the average budget for films by women directors has fallen by 29%.

Of course, more men are among the nominees at Cannes, and therefore win more Césars, once again, in 2020:

César for Best Film : a film by a man.
(nominees were 5 films by men, 1 film by woman)

César for Best Realisator : a man.
(nominees were 5 men, 1 woman)

César for Best Film, voted by the Public: a man’s film.
(nominees were 5 men, 1 woman)

César for Best First Film: a woman's film.
(nominees were 3 films by men, 2 films by women)

César for Best Foreign Film, a film by a man.
(nominees were 6 films by men)

César for Best Original Screenplay, a film by a man.
(nominees were 4 men, 1 woman)

César Best Adaptation, a man.
(nominees were 5 men)

César Best Costumes, a woman
(nominees were 1 man, 4 women)

César Best Decors, a man
(nominees were 5 men)

These are the official figures, you're smart enough to draw your own conclusions.

Now, my humble personal opinion on the films J’accuse and Le Portrait de la jeune Fille en Feu (The Portrait of the Burning Girl):

I have not seen Roman Polanski's J’accuse and I will not go to see it for the following reasons:

1) Roman Polanski :
Seriously? You give this 87 years old man a FIFTH César? The Centre Français du Cinéma again gave him public subsidies to make his film? Again?
So, yes..., there's a debate: should we sanction the artist or only take into account his work?
An artist is only a man, after all... or a woman! He has the right to make mistakes and missteps. Yes, I think so. But he also has, like everyone else, the duty of repentance and penance.
Therefore, I won't subsidize this artist with the price of my cinema ticket. This is all I can do.

2) I've had enough of men's stories! There have been too many and there are still too many. They have their audience and that's fine. But, in the first forty-five years of my life, I've watched men's films, 95% of the books I have read were by men's authors. Since now on, in the time I have left, I prefer to watch or read stories by and about women.

3) J’accuse.

Seriously? Aren't the French fed up with this trial they had to learn in high school, which is regularly talked about in the newspapers again and again? And then there's Zola, whose "room is stretched out with antique tapestries and a Henri II bed that juts out into the middle of the vast room lit by old church windows that cast their multicolored light on a thousand fanciful trinkets, unexpected in this den of literary intransigence," as Maupassant described it.
Ok, the guy was falsely accused. Ok, there was injustice, anti-Semitism. Ok, guy's honor, and so on..., but...

4) Can someone explain to me why, but why would the story of the trial of an army officer have more historical significance than the timeless story of three women - who represent all women who are, I remind you, half of humanity - women who struggle or survive in a society that does not respect them?

When I was a child and teenager, I saw on the television news black men from South Africa demonstrating against apartheid in their country. I still remember the images of these men, making clouds of dust, who didn't walk, but jogged, because the protest marches were banned. And I still hear the comments of male journalists in the 70s and 80s: "Here are men gathering, fighting together, running, braving danger, prison, police."

I am currently re-reading Call Me Woman, by Ellen Kuzwayo, published in 1883. And I am angry. Where were all the black women who fought, were imprisoned, built and rebuilt their country? Not on the news! Who could have seen these women, known of their existence, their resistance, their infinite goodness and generosity? No one, because no one mentioned them on the news!

I saw Le portrait de la jeune Fille en Feu:

Big pros:
It's a very good and beautiful story, timeless.
Actresses are perfect. I really liked Noémie Merlant's face, the friendship between the three girls, the fact that there are no men. I thought it was good that the future husband was neither seen nor described, the point is not, no matter the man, one should not marry two people without them knowing each other and wanting to.
The landscape, the decor of the house, all was very good.
The costumes were very well made and beautiful. The mother and daughter matched in dark blue, in noble fabric, the woman painter in red, freer, and the maid in flowery white, more childlike, innocent and naive. It was perfect.
The scene of the fire and the women singing was great! Moving, strong; the singing, even if it was not of the period, was perfect, and in its place, and poignant.

Little cons:

First of all, a little too long, due to the fact that each character is waiting before to respond to the other. The silences, the poses, the landscape, the portrait, the glances were good and useful, but the slowness of the dialogues was a bit annoying.
Then I think Céline Sciamma the director made, in some minuscule details, the mistake that many women make since they write stories or make films: they tell a story to make a point. Let me explai

When a man tells a story, he doesn't tell you: here is a superhero, he is a superhero because men are strong, they save women because women are too weak to do it, they save the world because only they can. No. A man tells his story without justifying himself. It is the spectator who unconsciously infers that man is the strongest and that that's how it is!
That's why in France, "people" say that women's films are sometimes boring: because women always want to prove something, as claimants of a fair right to equality, as victims of a man's world or otherwise. And that sometimes makes them lose track of their story. Whereas the viewer, woman or man, only wants to see a story, not a thesis on feminism.

In the end, a very good film, a very good story, a good psychology of the characters, including that of the mother, good actresses, costumes, sets, and a beautiful way of filming. I recommend The Portrait of the Girl on Fire.

That said, should Céline Sciamma's film have won at Cannes? I don't know, I haven't seen the other films. In any case, despite my negative criticisms about small things, it was a very good film, a very beautiful story, universal, unfortunately still timeless.
Should Adèle Haenel not have left the César Theatre in Cannes before the end of the ceremony? I don't know, I didn't follow all the backstage of this "Cannes 2020 Case". But if it has to be "excused", I excuse her gesture:
An artist must be free to express his thoughts. And I believe that it is by peacefully shaking up millennia of male control over a world that is also that of the 50% of women who live in it, that this can change.©

The future is female,

Gabrielle Dubois


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