Female director to open Cannes for first time

Isabella Rossellini will head the jury forthe sidebar competition, Un Certain Regard.

Isabella Rossellini will head the jury forthe sidebar competition, Un Certain Regard.

Published Apr 17, 2015


France’s Emmanuelle Bercot (pictured) is to become the first female director to open next month’s Cannes Film Festival, organisers said this week.

Bercot’s La Tete Haute tells the story of a troubled teenager named Malony. The movie traces his life from childhood to adulthood, as a children’s judge and a social worker battle to save him.

Cannes organisers have come under fire in recent years for their failure to showcase women film-makers, with critics claiming that the main competition of the world’s leading film festival is dominated by male directors.

Only one woman director has won the festival’s coveted Palme d’Or for Best Picture in 68 years – New Zealander Jane Campion with The Piano, in 1993.

The selection of Bercot’s film, with its strong social commentary, also marks a change from the recent inaugural entries, which have tended to have generally lighter story lines.

“The choice of this film may seem surprising, given the rules generally applied to the Cannes festival opening ceremony,” said festival director Thierry Fremaux on Monday.

“It is a clear reflection of our desire to see the festival start with a different piece, which is both bold and moving,” he said.

Italian-American actress Isabella Rossellini will head the jury for its sidebar competition, Un Certain Regard.

She will help choose a winner of the 20-film contest, which tends to include works from offbeat and up-and-coming filmmakers.

Rossellini, who is the daughter of director Roberto Rossellini and actress Ingrid Bergman, has starred in many adventurous and quirky films, including David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Abel Ferrara’s The Funeral and Guy Maddin’s The Saddest Music in the World.

The festival said on Friday that she will also attend a Cannes screening of a documentary about her mother.

Film-making brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are joint presidents of the main competition jury at the French Riviera festival, which runs from May 13 to 24. – AP and DPA

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