Women grab Cannes spotlight with disturbing tales

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Female directors, famously shut out of the Cannes film festival's main competition in 2010, dominated the opening of this year's event with dark tales of murder, prostitution, rape and suicide.





Three of four women vying for the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture in Cannes screened their movies to the press in the first two days, and, while dividing critics and varying widely in style, they shared a disturbing vision of the world.



French actress and film maker Maiwenn Le Besco was the latest woman in competition this year to present her film "Polisse" today, a hard-hitting drama about a close-knit team of police officers in the Child Protection Unit (CPU).



She followed Australia's Julia Leigh with her debut feature "Sleeping Beauty", about a student who turns to a strange form of prostitution, and Scotland's Lynne Ramsay with "We Need To Talk About Kevin", about a troubled mother-son relationship.



The last of the quartet is Japan's Naomi Kawase with "Hanezu No Tsuki", her third picture in competition.



Film experts said it was no coincidence that more women were in Cannes' flagship selection this year.



"The increased number of female directors in the Cannes competition reflects a growing trend," said Annette Insdorf, film professor at Columbia University who is in Cannes.



"I don't think it is separable from Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar win for 'The Hurt Locker' or Lisa Cholodenko's critical and commercial success with 'The Kids Are All Right."



"Polisse", based on true stories, offers a disturbing glimpse into child pornography, incest, sexual abuse and abandonment, and examines how the police struggle and ultimately fail to separate their personal and professional lives.



The stress of the job, and grim discoveries that are part of the daily routine, create a strong bond between the officers and is a source of often hilarious gallows humour, but it also tests their friendships to the limit.







Maiwenn, who also stars in her film as a photographer brought into the CPU to record officers' lives for an official book, ends up in a relationship with hot-tempered yet deeply sensitive Fred, played by French rapper Joeystarr.



"I don't think there's any need really to discuss the status of female directors," Maiwenn told reporters in Cannes.



"I don't think the gender of the director is important at all. I don't think there's any need to have a rule whereby a certain number of women should be in Cannes. I'd hate to think that my film was selected because there was a quota for women."



She added, however, that being a female director on the set was harder than being a male.



The movies returned the Riviera competition to the kind of sombre, uncompromising cinema for which the festival is famous, after Woody Allen's popular comedy "Midnight In Paris" and a host of A-listers gave the event a splashy, upbeat opening.



"The vision of the three films screened thus far has more to do with festival selections than gender: Cannes always tends toward dark, edgy material that reveals the sensibility of an auteur," said Insdorf.



The festival is back in glamour mode at the weekend with blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides", which brings Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz to the red carpet to the delight of hundreds of fans and the 4,000-strong press corps.



Reviews of "We Need to Talk About Kevin", an adaption of Lionel Shriver's bestselling novel about a fictional school massacre, have been generally positive, with Tilda Swinton garnering praise for her portrayal of the tormented mother.



Sleeping Beauty, about a student who agrees to take sedatives and lie naked and unconscious while ageing clients pat, paw and lick her, divided critics.



"Sleeping Beauty strikes me as particularly feminist: despite the abundance of female nudity, it is an austere portrait whose voyeurism is uncomfortable," said Insdorf.



"And a male director probably would not have depicted male nudity the way Julia Leigh does - as old and flaccid."

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
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
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
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Arts and Entertainment

Music
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.

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past