Jessica Chastain Disturbed By Sexism In This Year’s Cannes Films

Will Smith chimed in too

Image via Flickr

Jessica Chastain is a champion of the people. We know this based on the work she does for mental health advocacy, her resounding defense of equal pay, and her involvement with the nonprofit We Do It Together, which aims to support women in film. And, as a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, she did not disappoint.

While sitting among fellow jury members at a closing press conference on Monday, Chastain, well, chastised filmmakers for their lackluster and downright “disturbing” portrayals of women. Though admitting there were a few exceptions, she made a point of explaining how disappointing it was to see so many one-dimensional representations of female characters.

She told reporters,

“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 that I saw represented. And it was quite disturbing to me to be honest. There are some exceptions, I will say, but for the most part I was surprised with the representation of female characters on screen in these films.

And 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, ones that are proactive, have their own agencies, don’t just react to the men around them, they have their own point of view.”

Though Chastain isn’t the only one to call out the film industry’s sexist discrepancies. According to Indiewire, Nicole Kidman pointed to the fact that women only directed four percent of 2016’s biggest grossing films. “We as women have to support female directors, that’s a given now,” she said at a press conference. “Everyone is saying it’s so different now—but it isn’t. Listen to the statistics.”

And while we’re talking about statistics, it’s worth noting only 7 percent of the films released in 2015 accurately reflected America’s diversity. This year’s Cannes Film Festival did not deviate from this lopsided norm, something Will Smith was quick to point out, telling press “a couple black folks [on screen] next year wouldn’t hurt.”


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