Jessica Chastain found the portrayal of women in movies competing at the Cannes Film Festival “disturbing”.
The Zero Dark Thirty actress served as a member of the jury at the 70th annual French film festival alongside Will Smith and jury president Pedro Almodovar. The jury were tasked with watching movies in the Official Competition and deciding who would win the coveted Palme d’Or for best film, which went to The Square, among other prizes.
At the closing press conference of the festival, Jessica candidly admitted that she wasn’t impressed with how women had been portrayed in the films she saw and how the industry needs more female storytellers to create more authentic female characters.
“This is the first time I’ve watched 20 films in 10 days, and I love movies and the one thing I really took away from this experience is how the world views women from the female characters I saw represented and it was quite disturbing to me, to be honest,” she said.
She noted that although there were some exceptions, she was surprised with the representation of females onscreen.
“I do hope that when we include more female storytellers, we will have more of the women that I recognize in my day-to-day life,” she continued. “Ones that are proactive, that have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them. They have their own point-of-view.”
Her statement received lukewarm applause in the room but video footage of it has since been shared thousands of times on social media, most notably by Selma director Ava DuVernay, who wrote, “Say that, @jes_chastain.”
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 29, 2017
Ava was joined by stars including Debra Messing, who posted, “YES @jes_chastain YESSSSSS. Thank you for using you voice so powerfully and effectively,” Michelle Rodriguez, who added, “Get Some tell em girl” and Lena Dunham, who posted clapping emojis.
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) May 30, 2017
Jaime King also wrote, “THANK YOU! The smattering of applause juxtaposed w/ the strength of this truth makes your statement even more powerful @jes_chastain.”
— Jaime King (@Jaime_King) May 30, 2017
The 70th Cannes Film Festival concluded on Sunday (28May17), when Sofia Coppola was named the Best Director for The Beguiled. She has become the second woman to win the prize since Yuliya Solntseva in 1961.