Four female nominees for Palme d'Or make it a golden year for women

The British director Lynne Ramsay is leading an unprecedented charge by female directors at this year's Cannes Film Festival. This year's competition for the Palme d'Or prize features four women directors, the highest in the festival's64-year history.

Ramsay has directed an adaptation of Lionel Shriver's novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, the story of a mother coming to terms with her son's psychopathic behaviour.

Critics panned last year's Cannes line-up for solely featuring male directors. This year's female comeback is led by Ramsay, best known for her debut Ratcatcher (screened at Cannes in 1999), joining Japan's Naomi Kawase, France's Maiwenn Le Besco and the Australian Julia Leigh in a contest to win over a Cannes jury chaired by Robert De Niro.

"It is very exciting for everyone involved, for Lynne, her colleagues and for the shape of the festival," said Luc Roeg, one of the film's producers. "It feels great because we are so proud of the movie, whereas the selection is somewhat out of our control. While Shriver said the film had her blessing, she said she had not seen the film and has not been invited to attend the festival.

"I've lived on the margins of the process," she said. "It has my signature on the contract but I did not write any of the script. It's obviously important to Lynne that I like it, which is very sweet, and so it's important to me that it's important to her. She wants me to see it at its best, and that means seeing it when it's completely finished."

The adaptation stars John C Reilly and Tilda Swinton as Kevin's parents, Eva and Franklin, with the eponymous character played by the relative newcomer Ezra Miller. Radiohead's guitarist Jonny Greenwood has composed the score. Kawase's historical feature Hanezu No Tsuki, her fourth feature film, is Asia's only film in competition; Le Besco's entry is the cop romance Polisse, while Leigh's erotic drama Sleeping Beauty sees Lucy, a student, forced into prostitution and drugged.

Big-name directors in competition include Pedro Almodovar, for the revenge picture La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In); Lars Von Trier's Melancholia, described as a "beautiful movie about the end of the world", and Terrence Malick's generational drama The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt. The latter is the only US film in competition.

Eagerly awaited films this year include Paolo Sorrentino's This Must Be The Place, starring Sean Penn as a wealthy retired rock star hunting a former Nazi who persecuted his father. Drive, directed by the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, stars Ryan Gosling as a stunt performer with a contract on his head.

The festival's opening film is Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, a romantic comedy set in Paris. Appearing out of competition will be the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Jodie Foster's The Beaver, featuring Mel Gibson, in which the controversial actor plays a hopelessly depressed man who finds solace in a glove puppet. The competition line-up features 19 films in total, with the festival running from 11 to 22 May. The winner of the Palme d'Or is announced on the festival's final day.

Cannes 2011: The female leads

Naomi Kawase Hanezu No Tsuki

The 41-year-old Japanese director won the Cannes Film Festival's Grand Prix, its second most prestigious prize, in 2007 for Mogari no Mori (The Mourning Forest), the story of a nurse grieving for her dead child. She is in competition this year for Hanezu No Tsuki, which focuses on the history of the city of Asuka.

Lynne Ramsay We Need to Talk About Kevin

Glasgow-born Ramsay, 41, is a graduate of Beaconsfield's prestigious National Film and Television School. Her adaptation of Lionel Shriver's We Need To Talk About Kevin is part financed by the now-defunct UK Film Council, along with BBC Films, and is Britain's sole entry in competition at Cannes this year.

Maiwenn Le Besco Polisse

Le Besco, 34, who works under the moniker Maiwenn, is best known as her appearance as an opera-singing alien in Luc Besson's 1997 sci-fi The Fifth Element. She made her directing debut in 2006 Pardonnez-Moi, a sleeper hit, and is in competition this year for cop romance Polisse.

Julia Leigh Sleeping Beauty

Leigh, 40, is a novelist best known for her debut film The Hunter, a tale of survival set in the Tasmanian wilds. She makes her directorial debut with a controversial adaptation of her own novel, Sleeping Beauty, described as a "haunting erotic fairy tale" featuring drugs and prostitution.

The other contenders

Pedro Almodóvar – La Piel que Habito

Bertrand Bonello – L'Apollonide (Souvenirs de la Maison Close)

Alain Cavalier – Pater

Joseph Cedar – Hearat Shulayim

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne – Le Gamin au Vélo (The Kid with a Bike)

Aki Kaurismäki – Le Havre

Nuri Bilge Ceylan – Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life

Radu Mihaileanu – La Source des Femmes (The Source)

Takashi Miike – Ichimei (Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samuraï)

Nanni Moretti – Habemus Papam (We have a Pope)

Markus Schleinzer – Michael

Paolo Sorrentino – This Must Be the Place

Lars von Trier – Melancholia

Nicolas Winding Refn – Drive

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried