A female juror at the Cannes Film Festival spoke out yesterday against the lack of women film directors, days after a row erupted over the absence of female nominees for this year's Palme d'Or prize.
Andrea Arnold, the British director of acclaimed films including Red Road and Fishtank, is one of four women on the nine-strong the jury. The lack of female directors is "a great pity and a great disappointment", she said. "Women are half the population and they have things to say about life and the world."
The lack of a single film directed by a woman on the 22-strong selection prompted a group of female film-makers, including Virginie Despentes, Coline Serreau and Fanny Cottençon, to write an open letter to the organisers.
They said: "Last year, no doubt it was an accident, four women managed to slip in among the 20 in official competition." Ms Arnold also added wryly that maybe 2011 "was a good year".
The letter sarcastically applauded the selectors saying they had "returned to their senses" and added: "Men love their women to have depth, but only when it comes to their cleavage."
The only woman to win the award in the festival's 64-year history is Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993. Yet, Ms Arnold said: "I would hate it if my film was selected because I'm a woman. I would only want it selected for the right reasons."
Earlier this week the festival organisers responded angrily to the open letter. The head of the selection committee, Thierry Fremaux, said the judges would not select a film that doesn't deserve it "just because it is directed by a woman".
The jury, which also includes the actor Ewan McGregor, the director of The Descendants, Alexander Payne, and the fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, initially met on Tuesday, the night before the festival opened.
The president of the jury, Nanni Moretti, who directed The Son's Room, a Palme d'Or winner, said they would meet every two days to discuss the competing films.
The British director said the lack of female film-makers was 'a great pity'