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

Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
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.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink